Living Columns & Blogs

How to raise financially successful adults

As a parent, have you had the “birds and the bees” talk with your children? Have you taught your son or daughter how to be polite and courteous or respectful to people? The answer is probably yes.

Now, what about when it comes to money. Money isn’t a taboo subject, and your kids don’t need to be sheltered from financial matters, according to Dave Ramsey, author of “Smart Money, Smart Kids.” When you talk about family finances, you help to raise financially successful adults.

It only makes sense your kids know how much money it takes to support their current lifestyle. Do your children know the annual salary of your family? In our financial literacy class, questions about money are answered. Students are taught what it takes to support “their habits and living expenses.” Financial awareness is important.

Not all students will have an opportunity to take financial literacy classes in school, yet 69 percent of parents have some reluctance when it comes to talking about money with their children, according to a 2017 T. Rowe Price survey.

It is a good idea to have weekly conversations about money matters. This may or may not be combined with giving an allowance. Sample topics with which parents have initiated conversations include:

▪ Back-to-school shopping on a budget

▪ Figuring out how much was saved by purchasing sale items

▪ Discussing why they didn’t take a bigger vacation

Everfi, an education technology company, suggests when dealing with financial literacy:

▪ Clarify the difference between needs and wants.

▪ Define what makes you happy, and figure out what costs money and what does not.

▪ Get a clear picture of how much things actually cost. Kids can guess and then research actual costs to see how accurate they were. This knowledge is an important step toward setting financial goals.

▪ Practice making decisions. After receiving money, what will they do? Spend it all at once or save it.

▪ Understand opportunity cost. Present sets of choices and have kids describe the benefits and costs of choosing each item.

▪ Play money-related games such as Monopoly.

▪ Create a budget. Teach them to keep track of how much money is coming in, how much is going out and how much they need to set aside for future goals. Give them plenty of practice organizing their money this way.

▪ Explain borrowing: children may not realize that your family has financial obligations to consider, such as the mortgage for your home. Provide an example that your child can relate to, like lending money to a friend for lunch; when paying you back, perhaps they throw in a bag of chips as thanks. The “thanks” are like interest. Talk about how you would feel if they didn’t pay you back; would you lend them money again?

Teaching financial literacy to our children is not a be-all, end-all, but it begins the process of financial independence.

Join us for Straight Talk at Mount Nittany Middle School at 7 p.m. Feb. 20, when State College Area High School personal finance teachers will make a presentation about kids and money.

Jeffrey Kissell is a personal finance teacher at State College Area High School. He can be reached at

If you go

What: Straight Talk: Personal Finance: Raising Money-Smart Kids

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 20

Where: Mount Nittany Middle School, 656 Brandywine Drive, State College