We Bribe Our Kids, and Other Parental Money Misbehavior

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- By and large, parents try to do right by their kids and teach them the responsible way of handling money. But they're not above a bribe to get children to do their chores, or even "borrowing" money from their kids' savings to spend it on other needs.

So says T. Rowe Price in the annual Parents, Kids & Money survey released this week.

"We all can get caught up in the moment in looking for a way to get our kids to take care of what we're asking them to do," says Stuart Ritter, a financial planner at T. Rowe Price. "That said, the issue is less about why parents are doing it and more about what the conversation is around the money. Parents need to use any exchange as a teachable moment to talk to kids about what to do with the money they're getting."

The survey offers a revealing picture of how parents treat their children on money matters. The good news is that 69% of parents "want to set a good example" when it comes to saving and spending money.

But aside from the 48% who resort to bribes, another 28% of parents say they have lied to their kids about money and another 30% say they have borrowed money from their children's savings for their own use.

Some additional items from the survey:

Parents "mistakenly prioritize college over retirement." 52% of parents say it's more important to save for their kids' college rather than their own retirement.

"There's confusion on how to save for college." 44% of parents identified a savings account as one of the best ways to save; only 34% identified a 529 account. And 7% chose an account type that does not exist ("UBO-67" and "CS213").

"College costs are keeping parents up at night." 28% of parents admit to losing sleep at night because they worry about saving for their kids' college.

"Parents have apprehensions about talking to kids about money." 74% of parents admit to having some reluctance to talking to their kids about money, and 28% say that they are not good with money, so they should not be the one to teach their kids.

"Gaming works." 83% of moms and dads say using games to teach kids about money really works.

"Tech happy." More kids have computers than savings accounts, and most kids are at least plugged in to spending money online, and 61% of U.S. kids have shopped online, the survey reveals.

Ritter, the father of three, says there are plenty of opportunities to provide the younger generation some good lessons on money management.

"Parents can use everyday situations to spark conversations about money, whether it's using coupons at the grocery store or visiting the ATM, and discussing college is no exception," he explains.

Just talking about money in front of kids can make a big difference, especially when it comes to college savings.

"Eight out of 10 kids surveyed feel it is important for their parents to talk to them about saving for college," he adds. "By having conversations about college early and often with your kids, they will learn about the cost of college and why it is important for the family to save for college, especially since 77% of parents expect their kids to pay for some of their own college education."

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