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Tips for Mixing Finances and Family

Growing up, my family didn't talk about money very much. It's not that is was taboo, it was just not a common topic of conversation. We had occasional discussions about saving, credit cards, spending, allowance, and things of that nature.

Most of what I have learned about money came later, on my own, when I realized there were better ways to manage my money. What a waste of my youth! The formative years with the family are a prime time to learn about finance. And with the family being the central unit in our society, who better to learn about and work out your finances with?

That being said, talking about money and such isn't always easy. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Talk about money with everyone in the family...meaning spouse and kids. Don't think that anyone is too young, not interested, not smart enough, etc. Give them a chance to understand, and they'll surprise you. Money can be extremely interesting(you're reading this post, aren't you?).

Have common financial goals. You and your spouse should be on the same page when it comes to retirement, but have you ever discussed it? Your retirement might not be interesting to the kids, but what about a family vacation? Make a date with the family to talk about what kinds of goals you have for your money, or if you don't have any goals yet, make some.
Give the kids/spouse a reason to be on board. This ties in with the goal setting. How does managing the money in the house affect them? They need reasons to want to save their money, work hard, learn about finances, etc. It's helpful to outline how good finances affect them personally, as well as as a part of the family. For example, your 16 year old will want to know that consistently saving will eventually get him or her that car. Your college student should know that their credit history will follow them for years, and can hurt Mom and Dad if they're on a joint account.

Teach money skills and thinking. We deal with money everyday, so there are a plethora of opportunities to teach financial managment skills. Do you teach your children what you're doing when you pay the bills? How about when you use your credit card to make a purchase? Does you spouse know anything about your investment plan, or you path to getting out of debt? Take these daily moments and use them! You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to teach in the moment than out of the blue.

Here are some more ideas from a neat series by other financial bloggers, and one of my own:

Family and finances should go hand-in-hand. I think that following these simple tips would result in less failed marriages, more debt-free young adults , and more financial confidence in kids, all things in short supply right now. How do you talk about money with your family?
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