How to Talk to Your Girls (and Boys) About Money
Dear Readers: Recently, I've focused a lot on the challenges women often face in securing their financial future. In spite of the advances women have made, they still face personal, cultural and social hurdles when it comes to dealing with money. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to see the theme for this year's International Women's Day, celebrated on March 8: #BalanceforBetter, calling for a more gender-balanced world economically, socially and politically.
Don't get me wrong. Women have come a long way. It still takes me by surprise that it wasn't until 1974 that women in the U.S. were able to open credit card accounts in their own names without a male co-signer. And before 1980, a man was able to take out a second mortgage on a jointly owned home without his wife's knowledge. That's hard to fathom in today's world. Today, women are taking charge on many fronts. In fact, Women's History Month, also celebrated in March, makes a point of honoring women who have played a role in shaping our nation in the fields of science, politics, the environment, the arts and so much more.
But while we can be inspired by the women activists around us and be encouraged by the increased desire for gender balance, young women continue to fall behind their male peers when it comes to financial know-how. As was revealed in a recent Schwab survey, girls don't seem to be getting the same financial start as boys.
It's an ongoing problem, and I think parents can be part of the solution. How? By making sure our daughters -- or any young women for whom we can be a positive influence -- get the same messages as our sons when it comes to money.
Talk Openly -- and Equally
One of the first rules of the road when teaching kids about money is to talk about it openly. It's also just as important to talk about it equally with your girls and your boys. Studies show that parents are more likely to talk to girls about household financial topics like budgeting and to boys about more sophisticated topics like long-term financial planning and investing. So, it's up to us to make sure we have the same money conversations with our daughters and sons -- whether about paying for groceries or saving for retirement.
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Better Than Talking, Get Kids Involved
Taking a trip to the store? Even a young child, male or female, can learn to handle money, comparison shop and choose between a need and a want. Planning a family vacation? Get everyone involved in a cost analysis and savings plan. Have a teen headed for college? Both girls and boys should be aware of the costs and how they'll be covered -- including possibly contributing some of their own earnings to a college account.
Of course, how much you include your kids in day-to-day money issues will depend on their ages, but make certain that when you do include them, you don't divide topics by gender.
Make Equal Pay for Equal Work a Given at Home