< Back

This Week In Your Wallet: The New Facts Of Life

Raise your hand if you remember your parents sitting down to tell you about the birds and the bees. Keep it up if you’ve had the same cringe-worthy conversation with your own kids.

Although those conversations aren’t likely to fade from our memories anytime soon, there’s a new most valuable talk to have. It’s the money talk, according to a new study by Chase & The University of Colorado Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making. It found more American parents believe that giving their kids the lay of the financial land is even more critical than teaching about the facts of life.

Personally, I vote for both. But if you’re wondering why finances take precedent, it could be because two-thirds of Boomers told the surveyors that their own parents rarely or never talked to them about money. If they felt unable to cope entering adulthood, they could be trying to improve the situation for their own kids. The Great Recession almost certainly played a big part as well. As the parent of a recent college grad (and the friend of many others), I’ve heard a lot of anecdotal evidence that kids — many of whom watched their parents suffer through that tough time, or who have had a difficult time landing jobs themselves — are teeing up the talk by asking for clarification on things they feel they need to know.

So, if money — making it, saving it, spending it wisely, investing for the future and protecting what you have with the right combination of insurance policies (renters and health, to start) — hasn’t been a topic of family conversation, it’s time to bring it up. Here’s a conversation starter that works at every age: What are your big financial goals for the next year? (A 12-year-old might want a new gaming system. A 16-year-old, a car. A 21-year-old, to move out on her own.) Then, talk about how to get there.

Teens And Debit Cards

Here’s another teaching tool to consider, if you’re the parents of teens: Setting them up with their own debit cards. The New York Times wrote about this last weekend, but I did this years back with my own kids. Essentially, you open linked checking accounts to your own. That allows them to spend and you to monitor. (Ubers and buying too much pizza, anyone?) The first thing to do is make sure you’re ready to spend the time required to keep tabs on the account, talk about spending and give help and advice. Then, ask your bank the age minors are permitted to have debit cards under their own names — it’s sometimes 16, but for others, it can be 13 or younger.

If you decide your child is ready to start learning how to manage money, here’s what should be on your features checklist: no or low account fees, online account monitoring, convenient ATM access and — maybe most important — being able to set spending limits. Finally: One hitch I found from my own experience is that until your kids are driving, getting them to the ATM when they want cash can be a bit of a hassle. I solved it by offering to be the ATM for my kids. If they wanted cash, we’d sit down and sign on to the accounts together. We’d transfer the money out of their account and back into mine, and I’d give them the money.

The Gender Gap Starts Young

#Ugh. Girls around the world between the ages of five and 14 spend 550 million hours on household chores, according to a Unicef report. That’s 160 million more hours than their male counterparts. Being a girl aged 10 to 14 means an average of nine hours per week on chores, and in Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda, where there are higher expectations for girls to work, girls ages five to 14 spend two hours per day on housework. Unfortunately, you can’t just blow this off as something that happens in other parts of the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Time Use Study, analyzed by Slate, women spend an average of three hours per week more than men doing housework; men spend an average of three hours per week more than women at leisure activities. I’ll say it again. #Ugh.

If You’re Worried About Fake Bank Accounts

In the past week, the Wells Fargo saga — millions of fake and unwanted bank and credit card accounts created in order to meet sales goals — resulted in the resignation of CEO John Stumpf. We are sure to read more about that in the coming months, but for now you should know that a report from S&P Global showed complaints in the CFPB database about unwanted credit cards from a variety of banks. If you’re concerned, CNN Money has tips for checking to make sure all of the accounts and cards held in your name are, in fact, yours. First, call your bank and ask to review a full list of all accounts under your name. Then, check your credit report — and if anything looks fishy to you, document it, dispute it online and alert the three major credit bureaus. Putting a (free) fraud alert on your credit report is also a good idea.

Have a great week,


Subscribe to my free weekly Newsletter

We collect, use and process your data according to our Privacy Policy.