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Kids knowing parent's income


SquirrellyMama
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They can know...but then also they need to know how much of that (to them) vast sum of money just waiting to be spent on fun and toys etc. has to go to housing costs, car upkeep and insurance, groceries, doctor bills (copays) and health insurance, clothing, etc.etc.

 

Little kids I'd just say "enough to live on, take care of you, and save for vacation/old age etc.".

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We told our kids when they were younger and we also discussed expenses to explain why we couldn't just go out and buy everything we wanted to buy. It didn't come up again until youngest dd was getting ready to go to college and was freaking out about the money. We had to reassure her we had the means to help. We don't feel it needs to be a secret.

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DH is a public employee, so everybody who wants to could find out how much he makes. So, if it comes up we are open about it. I feel the need to be explicit that this is not a topic to be discussed outside of our immediate family. My family didn't discuss finances at all when I was growing up. It didn't bother me at the time, but I had a lot to learn when I entered the workforce myself.

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I have found that as my kids are younger, they just don't grasp budgets and larger sums of money. To them, ten dollars is a lot of money. So talking about how much we make and how we have a budget and don't just spend willy-nilly doesn't go very far when their eyes see dollar signs at ten bucks.

 

By the time they're teens, though, we start going over money much more in depth, including how much money we make and how much we spend on bills, trips, etc. It's really an eye-opener once they're earning money on their own and realize exactly how little it stretches!

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When we were kids, my dad took the pay from two pay periods and sat us down, carefully showing how each budget expense got its own envelope and that's where the money went. It was eye-opening. When you say "I make 40k" it doesn't make any sense to a kid, but seeing literally that the money goes here, here, and here does.

 

Of course, now I do know everybody's yearly income because I'm the one who does everybody's taxes! If I don't handle it for my family, they put it off and off. I don't know why, my mother certainly is capable of doing her own, but whatever.

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My parents didn't tell me and I don't tell our kids. There is really no reason for them to know. And, kids talk. My ds has friends that tell all their financial info to him. I don't think ds would talk, but why take the chance.

 

My youngest child has friends who compare their parents' income levels, housing costs, etc.....we just don't feel the need to tell him how much we make because he now seems obsessed with it (Public School in a wealthier area.)

 

What we DO tell him (as we pick him up from his friend's house (very nice and very big) is that we don't know other people's financial situations based on their houses or cars.  They could be in massive debt or one paycheck away from losing all their nice stuff.  We just don't know.  We could have a nicer house and nicer cars, but we like to have savings and we want to help our kids get through college.

 

Our income would sound very large to a young teen with no expenses, and even though he has done the Crown Financial for teens, I am not sure he fully gets it.

Edited by DawnM
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Short story:

My parents weren't open about their finances.  I had no idea what our situation was except they worried about money.  Their secrecy affected my sister and I quite a bit in our own money habits when starting out, and not in a positive way.

 

Our family:

Our budget is an open book.  The kids can pull it up on the computer if they like, and see how we're saving, why we spend the way we do, and that we're open to suggestions if there is something that is a big want that is not in the budget.  My oldest wanted to do a special camp - he had been asked to staff by those in charge, but staffing meant he had to pay his way for food/materials.  He was able to sit down with me and work the budget a little, but ultimately came to the conclusion that this was not in the cards for the year (it was in addition to two budgeted camp activities).  He was fine with the decision when he went to decline.  (it actually worked out okay for him - they offered him a scholarship to cover what we couldn't).

 

I'm much more okay with our kids' money habits than I was with my own at their ages because we keep everything open and have more opportunity to talk about it all. 

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We've never kept secrets from ours.  If they ask something, it's a cue for more life lesson discussions - at any age.  That's just the way our family works. With finances, they also learned that there are others who make more and less than we do - and that we earned more as we aged.  It's all part of life.  No regrets.

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One of our biggest complaints is that our parents didn't teach us anything about finances (me, my sisters and dh) or even talk to us about anything financial.  Well, without going into details, that ended in a complete disaster (or more accurately, one disaster after another- Lol).

 

So, I really talk to my teens about money.  We just opened a student checking account for our oldest teen yesterday and I went through everything I could think of.  I've showed her my checking account, I've showed her my budget, my bills, how I balance the checking account, how I handle our savings...everything.  I've talked to them about how to do a 401K, etc.  I tell them about scams.  I almost dragged the teens to our house refinancing a few months back, but I didn't think they would learn too much - just see what it looked like to refinance your house.   :tongue_smilie:

 

When dh was changing jobs earlier this year, I even told them about the process as we went and what he was doing to get through each step in the process.

 

My kids have had their own allowance for years - so they can pay for their own stuff.  My kids are very good with money and saving.  

 

But...we aren't wealthy and we live in a very ordinary working class subdivision.  No one is fixated on each other's income here.  If anything, they're probably trying to figure out how we have 7 people living on one income...   

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My kids know what my husband makes.  They are old enough to google it to find out anyway (he's a federal employee and they know his grade and step so his pay is published on-line for all to see).  They also know how much he started out making and how he's worked his way up over many years.

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Mine are too young. Occasionally I discuss income vs debt. We pay more in debt from student loans than a mortgage, about twice as much. We discuss that having a large income is not always what it seems if you have a large debt. We discuss the burdens debts place on people. We discuss needing to save for retirement and investing so you may not have to work until you're 65. We discuss saving money when possible. We discuss a large salary, if you work many hours in a week, may not be a good investment for your relationships and may be a burden and source of stress.

 

Growing up, I think I got poor financial advice and good financial advice. The family income was a secret, as it was considered an adult topic, and also rude to discuss. I hope to have discussions on more long term decisions for money vs short term (and will likely give specifics of income then). Instead of focusing on monthly expenses and income only, I want to impart financial decisions to most things- where you decide to live and work, where you decide to go to college, how buying something for this amount instead of investing may cause you to work an extra year of your life instead of choosing to retire. Not taking bank advice or common knowledge advice wrt mortgages and loans. And if you have leeway financially, it can allow you to have options in life.

Edited by displace
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It depends on personality. My DS11 is a blabbermouth unfortunately and he would blab a secret when excited. So if you tell him about a surprise party, it won’t stay a surprise. A few of my relatives blab when excited so mean people can still pry info out of them. My DS12 is very tight lipped and he has seen the W2s when I was efiling tax. It is hard to even get him to volunteer information about which city he stay in without the questioners being interrogated for intent instead.

DS12 has seen the turbo tax screens often enough to know that we pay quite a lot of tax to federal and state as well as the taxable wage amount. He has also seen that itemized deductions help lower the tax amount slightly. He also knows about RSU and us waiting for the tax form from Morgan Stanley. He’ll probably have no problem efiling his tax when he is an adult.

 

I helped my parents filed their paper income tax forms when I was in elementary school. My dad is ESL, my mom work shifts and I was cruising in school and also a tight lipped child. I helped my relatives who asked me to look over their tax forms for any errors. My brother however had people trying to pry info from him because my brother was gullible until his late 20s and had already been backstabbed a few times by “friendsâ€.

 

ETA:

MIL loves comparing income and complaining to strangers about all her kids as well as other people’s husbands not going for higher paying jobs. She will blab about other people’s pay checks. Luckily she works in fast food as a temp as she doesn’t keep confidential things confidential. One of my aunt is similar and we called that aunt radio broadcasting corporation so you can guess how bad it is.

Edited by Arcadia
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I definitely discuss how much we make with my teens. As they make college and career decisions, I want them to understand how far money goes as far as supporting their desired lifestyles. We go through our budget and talk real numbers. We also talk about other careers and income possibilities with those opportunities.

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Nope.  I don't think even my husband knows exactly what he makes since I do ALL the money thing in the family.

 

However!!  I talk about money ALL.THE.TIME.   They know all about budgets and taxes and are very familiar with the phrase "what we can afford", they know about welfare and debt.   They know that they won't ever get allowances from us, but whatever money they get, it's entirely up to them how to spend it.

 

They don't need to know our salary numbers to learn about personal finance.

 

 

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I've never seen a reason to know my parents income nor do I see any reason to tell my kids my income.  Budgeting, financial, money management skills can be taught and based on without knowing a specific number.  And like others have said, kids talk and I really don't want to get into the comparison factor.

 

My older 3 are very aware we have a budget for things (and frankly they each have one for their money as well), and we were are working on this with the 9 and 10 year old.  We talked about taxes, and medical expenses and how much food costs and wants verses need etc.  My oldest 3 are all very good at being aware of costs, knowing how to find good deals, ways to go out and have fun with their friends but not overspending and knowing if they don't have any more money either they have to find a way to earn more or they don't get to spend anything.  

 

I can't see how knowing my income would benefit them in any way.  We do talk about salaries in general as we help guide them towards future careers but that's the closest we get to discussing what we make.

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It depends, in part, on age.  A younger kid - even as old as middle school or early high school - may be tempted to share that kind of info in conversations with friends.  I wouldn't be too keen on that.

However, looking toward college and careers, a kid will need an understanding about income, career, and lifestyle, so that the kid will be able to make informed choices.

 

The biggest issue of all is related to income - financing college - and that is where parents need to be wide open with the kid, running Net Price Calculators early on so that everyone is realistic and on the same page about what is possible and what the parents are willing to do.  Going to yell here, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  Every day there's a new discussion over at College Confidential where the kid and/or parents assumed things were possible for college that simply were NOT because they weren't running the Net Price Calculators that detail how much the family would be expected to pay, they weren't thinking through how much money would be available, and weren't fully aware of the costs.  A head in the sand is a recipe for disaster when it comes to financing college.

Edited by wapiti
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I don't actually know how much I make and it doesn't matter (partner in a business, the money on my tax return bears no resemblance to what's in my personal bank account, and it changes wildly over time).  So if my kids ask, I tell them some age-appropriate version of that.  The important thing being that we have enough to meet our needs and many wants.

 

My folks didn't tell us when we were too young to understand being discreet.  When we were say tweens and older, my mom would tell us in the context of her or my dad getting a raise or a new job, and talk about how that related to our overall situation.  With adult kids she also blabs how much my siblings make.  :p  Not that I care or would ever say anything.

Edited by SKL
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As I single parent, I have because we're very tight financially, and I want them to understand how little wiggle room we really have compared to what we had. They're both in college though, so they need to know what certain budget items cost. I recently had to switch the utilities to my name, and that involved a $300 refundable deposit because it's been so long since I had utilities in my name. And I told them about that because it's something they're going to have to budget for when they start out on their own.

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I don't know if they remember the amount for yearly income. But we have talked about how much he makes ever paycheck. How much the mortgage is. How soon till that is paid off. How much we put into various funds. How much.....

 

I wouldn't be surprised if next time we meet with our financial adviser if Eldest sits in. He has an interest in the field, so doing so might be interesting to him. 

 

Youngest doesn't really care one way or another. 

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Our kids have never asked. 

​I don't know that it matters. We don't make much money. BUT we own our house. We have enough to have (and raise) our own food, heat the house in the winter, provide clothes and shoes and have older kids enrolled in a couple extras. We have ENOUGH. 

​I think I'd try to determine WHAT they are really asking. Do they really want a dollar amount, if so (particularly with older kids) I'd give them one? Or are they looking for reassurance that their needs (and their siblings) will be taken care of?

 

 

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Also, wanted to add:

 

I have had conversations with the kids about salary potential.  I told them that I used to make a lot more money before I had them bc I was working full time and had a lot of experience, etc.  But now I make much less but I am learning new stuff, I have the flexibility to homeschool them, etc etc

 

Salary number in a vacuum is completely useless information to a kid, in my opinion.

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FAFSA will decide for you.

 

Yeah it was a big stinking deal that my dad allowed me access to this info to fill out FA forms.  Prior, forget about it. This was some strange arse national security detail to him.  His parents were SO secretive that they would not allow access to the info for college.  So my dad didn't go to college.  Isn't that swell of them?!  Not.... :glare:

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I definitely discuss how much we make with my teens. As they make college and career decisions, I want them to understand how far money goes as far as supporting their desired lifestyles. We go through our budget and talk real numbers. We also talk about other careers and income possibilities with those opportunities.

 

Yeah, I agree.  We are college-planning, so they need to understand when they pick a career path...how much does that job generally make, what is the job market like, how much student loan debt could they possibly have and how hard will it be to pay off that student loan debt and live on their salary.  I've been going over ALL that stuff with my teens.

 

When we were younger, we had absolutely NO concept of money and how much things cost.  Like I said, all 5 of us made horrible financial decisions in our 20s that were life-changing.  I really want to prevent that with our kids.    

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Yeah it was a big stinking deal that my dad allowed me access to this info to fill out FA forms.  Prior, forget about it. This was some strange arse national security detail to him.  His parents were SO secretive that they would not allow access to the info for college.  So my dad didn't go to college.  Isn't that swell of them?!  Not.... :glare:

 

Lol!  I actually started laughing when I read the post "The FAFSA will decide for you."  Very, very true...   :D

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I think I'd try to determine WHAT they are really asking. Do they really want a dollar amount, if so (particularly with older kids) I'd give them one? Or are they looking for reassurance that their needs (and their siblings) will be taken care of?

 

Right, and this really depends on how old our kids are, too.  I've spent a lot of time talking to my 16 year-old about financial things, but my 10 year-old is just too little to be concerned about that stuff.  

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I would have never thought not to tell my kids at any age. With our older boys they knew everything and now have impeccable credit and amazing money management skills. We let them in on it all. I guess I don't understand why this topic is secretive. Maybe I am missing something but to me it is a non issue.

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Yeah it was a big stinking deal that my dad allowed me access to this info to fill out FA forms.

My younger kid that is likely to blab is also the kid that happily ask me to fill up all his forms and all he has to do is sign on the dotted line (whether by pen or electronically). He signed all his SAT, ACT, summer camp forms without reading through because he assumed I vetted them before giving them to him. We just checked “prefer not to tell†anyway for family income on those forms.

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Mine are too young. Occasionally I discuss income vs debt. We pay more in debt from student loans than a mortgage, about twice as much. We discuss that having a large income is not always what it seems if you have a large debt. We discuss the burdens debts place on people. We discuss needing to save for retirement and investing so you may not have to work until you're 65. We discuss saving money when possible. We discuss a large salary, if you work many hours in a week, may not be a good investment for your relationships and may be a burden and source of stress.

 

Growing up, I think I got poor financial advice and good financial advice. The family income was a secret, as it was considered an adult topic, and also rude to discuss. I hope to have discussions on more long term decisions for money vs short term (and will likely give specifics of income then). Instead of focusing on monthly expenses and income only, I want to impart financial decisions to most things- where you decide to live and work, where you decide to go to college, how buying something for this amount instead of investing may cause you to work an extra year of your life instead of choosing to retire. Not taking bank advice or common knowledge advice wrt mortgages and loans. And if you have leeway financially, it can allow you to have options in life.

 

 

This is pretty much my philosphy.  I have told my 17 year old, recently, when asked exactlyish what dh makes and what ds's dad makes.  His dad makes twice what dh makes so that was awkward for me, but whatever.  I explain to ds that income alone is not the whole picture.  

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I tell my kids.  My parents were extremely secretive about it.

 Same here. Dh has an accounting degree, so we've been pretty open about money since the kids were about 9+. It's important to know the situation so that you can learn to manage the situation. 

 

ETA: I've never understood the "but they might tell people what we make!" fear. I don't see why other parents would care if they did know. Everyone's just trying to get by. 

Edited by Element
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My parents didn't tell me and I don't tell our kids. There is really no reason for them to know. And, kids talk. My ds has friends that tell all their financial info to him. I don't think ds would talk, but why take the chance.

 

THis is the reason we don't share exact numbers with our kids. Our kids have not yet learned how to keep secrets. We work on it with them. But they tell near-strangers way too much. The number means nothing really to my kids but I don't want it blabbed about either.  AS they get older, we'll discuss money in terms of how much it costs to live -- fixed and changeable expenses, etc.

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It never once occurred to either of us to NOT tell our kids about our finances. At least not from the time they were 10 or 12, which was about as soon as they became curious. Both DH and I were raised knowing all about our parents' incomes and assets, so we never considered doing things any other way. The boys knew/know DH's approximate income, our approximate net worth, how much we inherited when my parents died, the approximate value of our real estate, etc. But they were both mature for their ages and understood that some things weren't meant to be discussed except among the four of us. Oldest DS was always interested in a career in the business/economics/finance area, so that was another reason we always discussed financial issues openly.

Edited by Pawz4me
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I would have never thought not to tell my kids at any age. With our older boys they knew everything and now have impeccable credit and amazing money management skills. We let them in on it all. I guess I don't understand why this topic is secretive. Maybe I am missing something but to me it is a non issue.

 

This is us.  It surprises me that anyone keeps secrets within a family TBH (at least, once the kids are old enough to have discussions).  There are no secrets in our family. There are no questions they can't - or shouldn't - ask.  We're one unit.  We like it that way TBH.  We have a close family.  Honestly, I don't even care if they share that info.  Hubby was just sharing all sorts of information at school on Monday when the math classes brought in career people who use math.  How much an engineer (like him) makes is certainly part of that info!  I also have no problem sharing with kids how much a substitute teacher makes (or doesn't!).

 

Keeping secrets makes no sense whatsoever to me, esp within a family.

 

YMMV

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This is us.  It surprises me that anyone keeps secrets within a family TBH (at least, once the kids are old enough to have discussions).  There are no secrets in our family. There are no questions they can't - or shouldn't - ask.  We're one unit.  We like it that way TBH.  We have a close family.  Honestly, I don't even care if they share that info.  Hubby was just sharing all sorts of information at school on Monday when the math classes brought in career people who use math.  How much an engineer (like him) makes is certainly part of that info!  I also have no problem sharing with kids how much a substitute teacher makes (or doesn't!).

 

Keeping secrets makes no sense whatsoever to me, esp within a family.

 

YMMV

 

 

I agree.  And I wish the whole 'income is a top secret' thing would go away.  I think it is in place because of work place differences between employees who should be making the same money but don't.  Wow, that was a convoluted sentence....but you get the idea.  

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