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Financial Futures

Kids and money: Have you had the talk?

Tess Vigeland Oct 9, 2009
Newborn babies lay in their beds. WALTRAUD GRUBITZSCH/AFP/Getty Images
Financial Futures

Kids and money: Have you had the talk?

Tess Vigeland Oct 9, 2009
Newborn babies lay in their beds. WALTRAUD GRUBITZSCH/AFP/Getty Images


Tess Vigeland: It’s a good day when I get to use a clip from Mad Men. “Oh,” you’re thinking to yourself, “something about how advertising helps separate us from our hard-earned dollars.” Not this time. Betty? Sally?

Sally: Are we rich?

Betty: It’s not polite to talk about money.

So why is it rude to talk about money, even from the comfort of your own home?

It’s a question we’re going to be asking and answering over the next few weeks. Kids and money. How we teach it. What they think of it. All leading up to a special live show in Portland, Ore., next month.

We’ll start with a mother-daughter pair. Beth Kobliner has joined us before. She is the author of “Get a Financial Life.” And she’s also the mother to three children. Her 13-year-old daughter is in the studio with us. First, welcome back, Beth.

Beth Kobliner: Great to be here.

Vigeland: And I’m so pleased that we’re joined by your daughter, Rebecca.

Rebecca Kobliner: Hi.

Vigeland: And we wanted to talk a little bit about what it’s like to have a mom who’s a personal finance expert.

Rebecca: Uh-oh. Well, you know, actually I learned a lot of great things from her. We like to go shopping together. That’s sort of our back-to-school. Actually, it’s a lot like what she says about getting a house: You really need to make sure if you wouldn’t buy it at full price, that you wouldn’t buy it at a discounted price. Because it’s not worth getting, if you’re going to compromise.

Beth: You know, it’s something we talk about a lot. Because, when she was little, we’d go into a store and you’d see something and you’d say, “Oh, it’s only a dollar, she wants it.” And I would really force myself to have to say “No,” because she’s my first born, my only daughter, and I wanted to give her these things. And I deprived her.

Rebecca: I’m a very deprived child.

Beth: But I think it worked out with that notion of, you know what, every time you walk into a store, doesn’t mean you buy something.

Vigeland: Do you remember when your mom first started talking to you about money?

Rebecca: I think I really grew up with it. I learned a little bit. We always got our allowance. We got a dollar a week when we were younger. They said, “You know what, you can buy some of these things yourself now that you have money.” Our allowance finally went up, so that’s a little better. We now get $5 a week.

Beth: I think also as not necessarily as a punitive thing, but for example, if she had a book in school, the school library and she lost it. And I said, “Look, you’re going to have to pay for half of that.” And I think that made an impact.

What was it the other day, you asked me for something and I…?

Vigeland: What did you ask for?

Rebeccca: Teen Vogue.

Vigeland: Teen Vogue? OK.

Beth: And I said, that has to come out of your money.

Vigeland: Do you get any education about money issues in school?

Rebecca: I do think a little bit. We don’t actually have an economy class or anything, but there’s definitely a lot of back and forth. Now that times are changing, I find that kids a lot are talking more about it and just sort of comparing prices — “Oh, I got this really cheap. You should check out this store!” and stuff. So that’s really nice. I like to see that people are sort of really thinking about what they get.

Vigeland: You think that’s an outgrowth of the economic crisis?

Rebecca: Yeah.

Vigeland: Is that what you mean by “things are changing?”

Rebecca: I think that actually there’s a lot of hope for kids that are going into their 20s and 30s now, because I think now we almost are sort of privileged, because we know more about money than I think people who grew up 10 years ago did. I think that we’re gonna be more responsible when we’re going into our 20s and 30s now.

Beth: I think that is true. And I think, honestly, people are getting laid off from jobs and the economy is definitely having a major impact on them, so that has to trickle down to the kids. And while that’s very difficult, I think it does end up with some pretty good lessons for people.

Vigeland: As a 13-year-old, I wonder what advice you would have for parents who are wondering how to talk money issues with their kids?

Rebecca: Well, I think what really taught me about money was when my mom and I went shopping together, and she showed me how to find a bargain and evaluate what I really wanted and what I didn’t want. I think that really taught me to sort of budget what I want to get and what I want to save. And I have a bank account. I opened a bank account and saved some of my money in there, so that I can get interest and buy more later, hopefully. So I would definitely just say there are little steps that you can take and sort of lead by example and showing kids what they can do to make the best of their money.

Vigeland: And not to be afraid about talking about money?

Rebecca: Definitely. Definitely not. It’s a really good experience for me to sort of learn what I can do to sort of make the best of my money.

Beth: Yeah, I just wrote, we went to a flea market a few weeks ago and we walked by something and Rebecca said, “Oh, I really like that.” And I said, “Let’s give it 30 minutes. Let’s walk down to the whole flea market and then come back and see if you still want it.” And she said that was really great and she also said, “Mommy, why can’t you do that with cookies?” And it was really an insight. She’s like, “You know what, that was really useful to me, Mommy, because I would’ve bought and now I really don’t think I want it so much.”

Vigeland: Well, I think that just the fact that you even talk about budgeting has put you far ahead of most adults, so congratulations.

Rebecca: Thank you.

Vigeland: Thank you both for coming in.

Beth: Thank you so much.

Rebecca: Thank you.

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