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Money lessons parents aren't teaching their kids

Ned Ehrbar
Producer

Are you worried your parents didn’t teach you enough about money? You’re not alone.

Nearly one in four adults in the U.S. -- 24%, according to the study -- say their parents didn’t give them any sort of financial education growing up, according to a new report from CreditCards.com and YouGov, which surveyed nearly 2,700 people.

Among those whose parents did talk to them about money, what they specifically talked about varied widely. While 65% got advice about savings, only 45% learned about spending, 38% learned about giving and 25% learned about borrowing. Only 22% of adults said they learned about investing from their parents.

Changes over time

When looking at how adults say their parents prepared them for their financial life over time, there are definitely signs of improvement. For example, when it comes to investing, the results are more reassuring for millennials: 26% of respondents age 23 to 38 said their parents taught them about investing, compared with just 17% of baby boomers.

But that increase doesn’t necessarily help with a decrease in actual investing among millennials. Only 37% of those under the age of 35 are invested in stocks, according to Gallup.

It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about investing

We’re more likely to follow in our parents’ footsteps with our own kids. Among those in the survey who did learn a thing or two about money from their folks and now have kids of their own, almost half are using an allowance as a tool to teach their children money skills.

And if you’re worried that allowances are getting out of control, don’t be. Of those parents giving their kids allowances, 40% are giving just $1 to $5 a week.

Allowance or no allowance, you can start talking about money with your kids as early as age 3. It’s about teaching them the value of putting your money to work. And in grade school, you might want to consider an exercise where you let your child pick a stock based on his or her interests. You can buy it and follow that stock together. Having some skin in the game is one of the most effective ways to learn.

But the more you get the basic concepts into their mind, the more it will be a part of the conversation. Leaving it out entirely means they’re far less likely to understand or take advantage of investing as a tool once they’re earning their own income.

Which means they could squander the opportunity for their investments to compound. As Bankrate’s Ted Rossman points out, “If you’re in your 20s, every dollar you set aside for retirement could be worth $15 or more by the time you reach your golden years.”

Added benefits to financial literacy include accruing less student debt, being financially independent from your parents sooner and smarter spending habits after college.

Plus it will give them one less thing to blame you for when they’re older.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter.

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