Should I tell my kids how much money I make?
Questions about kids and money keeping you up at night? This series answers them so you can get some sleep.
You may be surprised at how early your child starts getting personal about finance—specifically, your finances. I know some people recommend that parents share all the details, including their salary. My advice? Give your kid some context, but keep the cold, hard numbers private. Here’s why.
There are some things that kids aren’t ready to know or understand. This is doubly true for small kids. For one thing, there’s the practical matter that if you tell your kid how much you make, you may be hit up for money all the time. After all, according to kid logic, if you make $50,000—or $150,000—a year, then surely there’s enough money to [fill in the blank: get a candy bar, buy a boat, travel to Legoland]. Plus, your kid may tell her friends—or their parents—what you earn.
Don’t feel that you’re depriving your kid of vital info that will make her a money genius if you don’t disclose your dollar deets. Sometimes, a parent needs to draw a line and say, “This information is private. I’m not hiding anything from you. It’s just not something you need to know until you’re much older.”
That said, you can give your kid an idea of where you fall on the income spectrum. The median (meaning exactly in the middle) household income in the United States for a family is about $65,000. If you want, you can let your child know whether your family makes less than that, about that much, or more than that.
A big piece of understanding the true value of a salary is knowing what expenses it has to cover, which can be very eye-opening to a kid. So discussing your salary can spark a discussion about the family budget, including line items like your rent or mortgage, transportation, groceries, utilities, clothing, as well as expenses that are entirely invisible to a youngster, like insurance and taxes.