Discussing family finances in a meaningful way is a key element of a strong and honest relationship, but what if the problem is that some family members just don’t want to talk about it, especially around children?
Money has traditionally been – and continues to be – an area that people are most hesitant to talk about. Often, the children in wealthy families are actually more ill-equipped to talk about money issues than their less well-off counterparts.
Lee Hausner, psychologist explains it this way: “If you grow up in a poor family, you’re much more involved in the financial decisions of the family. You hear the talk about all the things you can’t afford. Money gets talked about a lot so you grow up with an awareness that it’s finite.”
Often times, high net worth families simple don’t discuss their wealth with each other, Hausner says. “When parents come in and talk to me, suddenly they’ll lower their voice and tell me, ‘We don’t want our kids to know we’re rich,’” she says. Many parents think that if they emphasize their wealth, it will cause their children to lose motivation to achieve, she notes.
In fact, in a recent study, nearly half of all high net worth individuals said their greatest concern about giving too much money to their children is that it will create a “disincentive to achieve one’s full potential.”
Setting the Tone for Families and Children
The tone can – and should – be set from the top down, where parents are uncomfortable even with telling their children how much money they have. The recent study also found that even though 63% of HNW families have plans to pass financial assets on to others, only 29% have had a conversation with the recipients.
The focus need not be on the specific numbers on the balance sheet, but rather an initial discussion on family priorities. Gradually discussing family goals with children and educating them about finances will help to impress on them that life isn’t a free ride.
Apex’s comprehensive approach to financial planning and advice often means that we coordinate and lead these discussions among families. The idea here is to foster a deeper understanding of not only finances, but what a secure financial future can mean to your family. This conversation can eventually lead to specifics on charitable donations and the idea of giving back; in fact, these conversations, in our experience, can even serve as a catalyst for your children to develop an appreciation for and involvement in charitable causes and organizations. Help us start the conversation by reaching out today.
Kids in the House