Financial Literacy

Talk to your kids about money the way you do about sex

By: Lisa Coxon on December 26, 2017

Schools have been teaching kids about sex for decades, but only this year will schools in Ontario start talking to them about money.

Ontario recently committed to making financial literacy a part of the grade 10 curriculum, starting in 2018. That’s great, but any parent who’s had the birds-and-the-bees discussion knows that education happens both inside and outside the classroom, which means they’re partly on the hook for imparting financial wisdom to their children.

When it comes to the Money Talk, here’s my two cents: borrow from the same clichés you used to teach your youngsters about sex to teach them fundamental lessons about personal finance.

Wait until you’re ready

The first thing you probably told your pubescent offspring about sex was that it’s not something they should rush into. I’m not saying they didn’t heed your advice, but chances are they didn’t wait as long as you’d have liked (see: never). You might have better luck employing this same nugget of wisdom when you teach your kid the hardest money lesson of all: you have to save up for the things you desire — and this takes time.

Use protection

Remember warning your children against unexpected pregnancy and unwanted infections? What a hoot that was! Give them another scare by describing the perils they’ll face if they don’t protect their money. If they just started earning an income, recommend they retire the piggy bank and open a bank account so they can guard their newly earned dollars. Then, teach them what a PIN is and explain why they shouldn’t share it with anyone. This is also a good opportunity to talk to them about insurance, since that also falls under the umbrella of protection.

The proper names and functions

Any parent knows they can’t let their child grow up believing his penis is actually a fire hose — no matter how much fun he has pretending otherwise during bath time. So, just like you taught your kids the proper names and functions of their pee-pees and petunias, it’s now your duty to teach them that the proper word for “credit” is actually “debt,” that a debit card functions exactly like cash, and that “minimum payment” is really just code for “Haha, sucker!”

Find someone you trust

You may have told your kids their virginity is something to treasure. Well, so is their money, and they shouldn’t hand over their precious assets to any ol’ bank. Advise they do some research on banking fees and interest rates. Come credit card time, tell them to read the fine print and check for hidden fees. Find a financial institution you can trust, and if you’re going to pay for advice, make sure that the advisor has a good track record of actually making money.