CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Money is often a complicated subject for families to talk about, but having proactive, open and honest discussions can help reduce stress and improve the financial future of generations to come.
When it comes to family conversations about money, State Bank of Southern Utah Senior Vice President Tyler Brown recommends starting with the basics.
“Most importantly, don’t try to explain everything at once,” he said.
To this end, State Bank of Southern Utah created the Dollars & Sense online education program that teaches life skills and various aspects of financial literacy. The self-paced learning modules, each lasting no more than 10 minutes, cover subjects such as building financial capability, making prudent investments, owning a home and preparing for retirement. This wealth of information on healthy financial habits is available to everyone in the community at no cost, not just bank customers.
Brown offered several other thoughts on how families can learn and practice healthy financial habits together.
Why should families talk about finances?
Brown said financial discussions between parents and children may sometimes feel awkward, but they’re among the most beneficial conversations families can have.
Explaining the importance of responsible money management lays the groundwork for kids to start practicing healthy financial habits. Ultimately, they will feel empowered to make sound choices on their own.
“The more information you have, the better decisions you make,” he said.
When should I start talking to my kids about money?
Brown said it depends on maturity level, but kids are usually old enough to learn money basics as soon as they start saying, “I want.” He recommends giving young children stewardship over a bit of money, which preferably they earn through chores, grades or good behavior.
“Let them go spend it. Then talk to them and ask if they feel it was the best use of their money,” he said. “Help them evaluate their choices and understand how those choices either help them or hurt them down the road.”
Brown said the most important thing to remember is to keep discussions age-appropriate. Make sure the conversation is simple enough for them to understand. As children grow and develop, so should their financial education to help implement positive habits.
What financial topics should I discuss with my kids?
Start with the basics of earning, borrowing, spending and saving, Brown said, adding that discussing a budget is critical.
“It’s eye-opening for kids to see how much it costs for things like water and housing and groceries,” he said. “Children may be a little more appreciative and understanding of why they can’t have all their wants.”
If you have teens, it’s time to talk about credit cards. Brown said it’s important for kids to understand that credit cards are neither good nor bad; they’re just another financial tool that people can choose to use either responsibly or foolishly. Teens may also be ready to learn about car loans and how their early financial choices will impact their credit score for years to come.
How can I encourage healthy financial habits?
A common adage says that it doesn’t matter how much money you make but rather how well you spend the money you have. Brown said this is especially true when it comes to modeling positive financial behaviors for kids.
Brown said that a healthy childhood relationship with money creates a foundation for success in many areas of life. Families that pinch every penny or continually overspend and struggle to make ends meet both negatively influence the way kids view money.
“In any family, a lesson is being taught, whether it’s by observation or discussion,” he said. “The best lesson you will ever teach is the example you set.”
State Bank of Southern Utah operates more locations than any other financial institution in the area and has flourished by focusing on the needs of its customers for more than 60 years. Brown said the bank was founded with a mission to empower individuals and businesses to take control of their financial destiny, therefore elevating the quality of life for everyone in Southern Utah.
“The more financial education and skills they have, the greater opportunity they have to succeed,” he said. “It’s a win for the customers, a win for the bank and a win for our community.”
For more information about State Bank of Southern Utah, visit their website. The bank is an equal housing lender and member of the FDIC.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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