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Which Parent, if Anyone, is Teaching Kids About Finance? Here’s What a New Survey Found

For children and students under the age of 25, Sunmark has developed products, resources and services designed to develop and encourage good money management and saving skills.

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Families have a long way to go in terms of preparing children to become financially self-sufficient, according to findings from a survey conducted by the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC).

“Most parents fall short of teaching their teenagers key life skills they'll need to meet the financial challenges of adulthood,” the organization said in releasing the findings.

The survey took place between April 20 and April 25, 2022, and asked 1,502 respondents across the U.S. the question, "Which parent taught you the most about money and personal finance?" The results indicate that respondents were slightly more likely to answer "mother" rather than "father" – 30.5% and 22.9%, respectively. But the primary takeaway from the survey was that 46.6% responded "neither.” 

NFEC Chart

According to the NFEC, the findings held true across all age groups of survey participants (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+ years old).

“The results are significant because…parents play an important part in preparing their children to meet the financial realities of adulthood,” the NFEC said. “This same survey has been conducted annually since 2019 and each year "neither" has been the top option.”
“Mothers” have also beaten “fathers” each time the survey has been conducted.

‘Parents Need to Get Involved’

"Parents need to get involved in their child's financial education. Financial literacy is not taught in schools with the rigor required to graduate youth ready for the financial challenges that await them as they enter adulthood,” said Vince Shorb, NFEC CEO. “We encourage parents to start teaching early and often to help their children live a more secure and rewarding life."

The organization further noted the survey results are concerning because when youth are unprepared to meet the financial challenges of adulthood, it has negative effects on the economy and the financial wellness of the whole nation.

The full survey results can be found here.

How do you get started? The Blance has these tips for families. Financial goal-setting with kids starts with asking them this question: What do you want to use this money for? The answers can vary by age. The older the kid, the bigger the goal might be. For example, your 10-year-old might want to save money for a video game, while your 16-year-old wants to build up funds to buy a car. Some goals may be short-term, while others may take longer to complete—it's good for kids to have a mix of both. 

When asking kids about their savings goals, encourage them to be specific. You can use the SMART method to help them set goals. These are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

It’s never too early to start teaching your children healthy habits, and that includes financial ones. From an early age, children begin to observe their parents in all areas of life, including their spending and saving and how they talk about money. Kids pick up on our attitudes about money just by watching us.

Start teaching your children healthy financial habits at a young age so they can begin to grasp and practice them early in life. Teaching these habits now will help your children become financially wise adults.