How to Raise a Kid You Won’t Have to Cut Off in 20 Years

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Today’s young people are more likely than previous generations to live with their parents, according to a 2017 analysis from the Pew Research Center. In 2016, 15 percent of 25- to 35-year-olds lived in their parents’ home, compared to 10 percent of Gen Xers in 2000.

Even when kids move out, it’s not uncommon for them to receive financial support from their parents. In fact, 62 percent of Americans age 50 and older gave a relative money in the last five years, with the largest sums often going to adult children, according to a 2017 Merrill Lynch retirement study.

Parents may not find those statistics encouraging, but the good news is there are ways to teach kids how to be financially responsible, and it involves raising the bar by asking kids to do more in the way of financial responsibilities. Studies have shown that when more is expected of a child (or anyone), they actually perform to that level of expectation. The same can be said of how they deal with money.

Don Roork, a Certified Financial Planner at AssetDynamics Wealth Management, has noticed a pattern with kids, adults and money. “Kids learn good money habits from just watching and being around their parents,” says Roork.

Roork also points out that money lessons aren’t always explicit verbal lectures on finance. “Kids watch mom and dad making good financial decisions, and voilà — the kids’ money behavior matches their parents’,” says Roork.

So when it comes to raising financially independent adults, it becomes clear that it’s important to start when they are kids. Here are some ways personal finance experts recommend easing your children — gently and kindly — into financial adulthood by weaning them from the family wallet.

Set expectations

As soon as your child begins asking for things like toys, restaurant meals or trips to the movie theater, they are ready to learn about the money it takes to support these wants. When a child expresses a desire for something beyond the basics, start the conversation then and there about how they’ll soon be responsible for these “luxury items.”

Of course, you don’t have to start charging them rent (not a bad idea, though), but you will want to follow up your expectations with actions.

For example, if your family goes out to eat, your child can pay for their meal or contribute to a portion of the bill. These expenses can be age appropriate and should increase over time as your child earns more money. They can start with things like snacks at the movies and move up to cellphone bills and car insurance.

Financial adviser Jamie Pomeroy of Financial Gusto says this should all start with communication: “Sitting down with your child and having a clear and frank conversation about who’s paying for what, can pay huge dividends.”

Another good exercise would be to show them prices on things they’ll need as adults, like a home or a car. Molding their expectations around what it takes to live will only help them down the road.

To drive this point home, Pomeroy suggests laying out a real plan designed to increase financial responsibility. “Make sure that you and your child are on the same page about what expenses they are responsible for, what you’ll continue to pay for (for now), and then introduce them to a budget to help them manage those expenses,” he says.

Create a reward system

Get-out-of-debt guru Dave Ramsey warns against giving kids an allowance and instead recommends that money given to a child should be tied to actions, like completing chores or other household projects. The idea is to get kids ready for the real world by emulating it with a system of compensation tied to work.

CFP Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents says, “One of the first steps in teaching your kids financial independence is giving them responsibilities around the home that are both paid and unpaid.”

Ramsey is also a proponent of giving children the opportunity to earn more money in “commissions” when they find extra things to do or take initiative in solving problems around the house.

Teach them personal finance

Many kids are shocked when they get into the real world and finally begin grasping the finite nature of money. Mom and Dad spring for everything, so why would money ever run out?

Clint Haynes, CFP of NextGen Wealth, says there’s a fix for this. “Make it a point to sit down with your kids and show them what your budget looks like, how it works, and why it truly is the foundation to personal finance,” he says.

When your child asks for candy at the store, don’t deflect them with, “We don’t have the money.” Instead, let them know that the money you have available isn’t earmarked for candy, showing them how a budget works in real life.

Other lessons you can teach early on include those around saving, compound interest and even giving.

Brian Hanks, a CFP out of Idaho, has an experiment he urges his clients to conduct with their children once they are high school seniors. He suggests parents hand over their checkbook and have their kid cover all the family’s expenses for the entire school year.

“Paying a family’s bills is eye-opening, and your teen starts to develop new money habits,” Hanks says.

Let them earn real money

You can start by giving your kids an allowance that is tied to performance: completing chores, excelling in school, and having a good attitude can factor into their “compensation.” Be sure to enforce the association between what they do and how they are compensated. Once they can work legally, you can taper off their allowance.

Ed Snyder, CFP at Oaktree Financial Advisors, says children who have jobs will be more thoughtful about their spending and better with money in general. “Working will help them think through their spending and hopefully be more responsible,” he says.

Keep in mind kids don’t always have to wait until they are 16 to get a job. They can start a business or participate in gigs that allow kids under 16 to work with a permit, like modeling or acting.

Challenge them

Not only should your kids be responsible for expenses and make their own money, Eric Jansen of AspenCross Wealth Management says kids should be challenged in their money habits.

“Set up 90-day savings and spending challenges as a fun way to help them better understand and manage the trade-offs between spending money on what they want and what they need,” Jansen says.

No-spend or savings challenges are great ways to teach lessons about money while showing your child what they are capable of if they focus on their goals.

You can even create competitions among siblings, like seeing who can save the most money.

Trust the process

Sound like a lot of work? It is! Financial independence doesn’t happen overnight.

“Some of these [money] lessons may click sooner in some kids than in others — even within the same family,” says Snyder. “Don’t give up hope. … Just keep showing them good examples and teaching them good old-fashioned financial lessons.”

Be patient, be kind, and be confident that the lessons you are teaching them will serve them well into adulthood.

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The Rock Band That’s Helping Kids Learn About Money


Most folks, even those in dire financial straits, probably wouldn’t get super excited about going to a concert that touts financial literacy, but that’s exactly what one band is doing — and doing successfully — and changing lives in the process.

The band, Gooding, is trying to make financial literacy exciting, especially for kids who may not have seen proper money modeling at home. The band’s front man and founder (who also goes by Gooding — just the one name, a la Madonna, Cher, Prince) came up with the idea several years ago that performing for students and talking about ways they can ensure a solid financial future could actually make a difference.

It all started with some conversations with locals while the band was out touring through small towns around the country.

Breaking The Cycle of Debt

“I had heard so many stories … intelligent, hard working people who just could not get out of this cycle with these same-day lenders, with predatory lending,” Gooding said during a recent phone interview. “Situations where I felt like there was no need for the confusing fine print they were having to try to interpret by themselves and signing off on loans that they just never had a shot at successfully paying back from the beginning.”

The debt stories were so widespread, particularly in the smaller towns, that it got him thinking about how he and the band might make a difference. He reflected back on his own teenage years, when his mom would let him and his friends play rock and roll all night, but they weren’t opening the bills, he didn’t know what a credit score was and he left high school knowing more about almost any subject than he did personal finance. He didn’t even know how to balance a checkbook.

“We just felt like, if the kids had some kind of level playing field, a lot of other things would improve,” he said.

It was when he met Rita Pouppirt that a plan to really spread the word came together. They had similar views and she started helping the band set up free shows at schools to spread the financial literacy message.

They started doing a lot of concerts at local schools, playing a set of music to get the kids fired up, and ending with a discussion about what it takes to ensure they have financial freedom in their futures.

Founding the Nonprofit Funding the Future

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Gooding onstage.
Photo courtesy of Gooding Music

“It just kept getting bigger and bigger, so she found some friends that helped us put the paperwork together,” for a 501(c)(3) to fund the effort, Gooding said. Thus was born Funding the Future, a nonprofit focused on educating students across the country on the importance of making smart decisions in order to reach their financial goals.

Roughly 30% to 40% of the band’s tour is dedicated to the Funding the Future presentations at schools, which is funded in part by Raymond James. And other bands are also getting involved.

The shows are a lot like those Gooding would play in a bar or theater or festival, though they start with a video clip of the band meeting all sorts of famous people. After that, though, it’s all the loud, crazy jumping around you’d expect from a rock concert.

“I do everything I can to just whip them into a frenzy. And then the speech is basically popping that balloon of the fame … I tell the kids, if you’ve got $1 in your pocket, you have more money than some of your heroes, so start from there. Start working on what you care about and don’t worry about all the hype you see about all these famous people.

“If I spoke first, we’d probably be in trouble, but the rock and roll let’s them listen a little bit, so we get a teachable moment.”

Gooding touches on a broad range of issues during the presentation, including:

  • Trusting your heart and following your passion
  • The importance of self-reliance
  • The impact of education and finding mentors
  • Financial literacy — pitfalls, plans of action, warnings against predatory lending, etc.
  • Slow and steady wins the race — not believing the hype of overnight success (they give examples of athletes, actors and actresses and music stars who are in severe financial stress)
  • Expenses rising to meet income (the façade of inheritance, lottery, record deals, pro-sports deals, etc., solving one’s long-term problems)
  • Lessons learned from a life in the music business and how these experiences extend to any field

“It’s unbelievable to me that … the deck is stacked against these kids the way it is,” he said. “And they don’t even have the most basic understanding of finance.”

Young people today have low credit scores, struggle with financial stability and often lack the funds to leave their parents’ homes. Top that with little financial education, mounting student loan debt levels and the fact that most people under 30 today make about the same amount of money their parents did in the 1980s, and it’s easy to see why today’s kids are skeptical about the future — and perhaps not prepared for it.

When the Message Gets Personal

He’s been moved to tears after some shows when he talks with the kids and they share with him the financial difficulties of their own families. One in particular sticks with him.

He met a student who had a tattoo across her entire arm that she’d put there as a reminder that she could make something of herself, because her mother had told her so many times she was worthless. (We won’t describe the tattoo’s message to protect the student’s privacy.)

“It just broke me down,” he said. “That really brings it all home how much these kids are fighting to find their own centers, their own selves and sense of purpose in this world.

“When you talk to a kid like that who is really trying to find anything to hold onto, to think it’s going to get better, to think there’s going to be a different life waiting for them down the road — I remember that feeling — and what I try to say to them is if you can figure out a way to embrace that and get up every morning and get some discipline and start pushing, you can succeed.”

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Courtesy of Gooding Music

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Are Americans Dumb With Their Money?

dumb with money

If you were to grade Americans on their ability to manage money, many of them, it seems, would earn Cs and Ds.

The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) recently administered its National Financial Literacy Test, a 30-question quiz designed to measure 15- to 18-year-olds’ ability to earn, save and grow money, to people of all age groups, and none of the demographics aced it. Here’s a quick breakdown of the average scores for each age group:

  • 10- to 14-Year-Olds: 53.56% (679 Participants)
  • 15- to 18-Year-Olds: 60.35% (6,544 Participants)
  • 19- to 24-Year-Olds: 67.8% (1,191 Participants)
  • 25- to 35-Year-Olds: 71.99% (845 Participants)
  • 36- to 50-Year-Olds: 72.87% (882 Participants)
  • 50+: 76.81% (856 Participants)

NFEC tested more than 11,000 people from all 50 states. Sample questions include: “What is networking?”, “Which of the following financial products can help you lower your personal risk?” and “Why would I want to improve my credit score?” (You can see how you would score by taking the test here.)

Improving Your Own Financial Literacy   

NFEC’s test results aren’t the first statistics that suggest Americans are lagging on financial literacy. A Gallup poll from 2015 found that the U.S. ranked 14th in the world in financial literacy. Other past surveys have found many Americans know nothing about their employee benefits, are woefully unprepared for retirement and have serious knowledge gaps when it comes to credit scores. (You can see get a credit score primer here. You can also see where your credit currently stands by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on

While it’s certainly encouraging, if not all that surprising, to see that our money management knowledge gets better with age, it’s in Americans’ best interest to build a strong financial literacy foundation early on. Failing to do so could easily lead to major debt woes and damaged credit scores, which, in turn, could make it harder to achieve major financial milestones, like buying a home, paying off student loans, or, even, retiring when they’re eligible, down the line.

Fortunately, there are lots of online resources that can help you improve your financial literacy. Some government websites, including, offer good primers. And you can ask your college, university or local board of education if they offer any free financial literacy classes you might be able to take advantage of.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: iStock

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