The Fourth P.E.C.K. focuses on the Kids

Tanya Winch
Tanya Winch

Money is almost always a touchy topic when it comes to relationships, and it does not get easier to discuss when you get married.  It is just good common sense to know about your intended’s money language, money comprehension and money fitness.

This is the fourth and last installment of our P.E.C.K. pre-wedding money conversations!  Our first installment spoke of the “P’s” – Practical.  The second installment addressed the “E’s” – Emotional.  The third covered “C’s” – Contractual.  This installment is on the “K’s” – Kids

All couples want their children to thrive, though this means different things to different people.  Your idea of how to care for your children’s money needs, expectations and desires are so important to explore together.  Let’s talk about the top nine kids and money questions to ask your intended before your baby’s first cry.

1 – How do you feel about gifts and toys?

Some families have birthdays and holidays that are flowing with gifts – other families believe that too many gifts make all gifts seem unimportant.    Some families feel too many toys are a distraction and others want more than enough.  It’s a good idea to know where your spouse is coming from early, to help keep a unified front.  It is simply practical to discuss this before your in-laws shock you with the opposite of what you expect.

2 – Do you want to send your kids to private school?

Private schools can be a good family fit, though the cost can be prohibitive.  If you feel it is very important that your children got to private schools, it is a good idea to speak about your hopes and dreams for your children before they step foot in school and to open an educational savings plan to help manage school fees.  A qualified financial advisor can sort through the options available to you and help you choose the appropriate plan.

3 – Do you feel summer camp is important?

I don’t know about you but summer camps were not only my favorite things, but they also taught me so much about myself.  I feel they are incredibly important, especially in this age of phones glued to teenage fingers.  That said, they can be expensive.  You may need to plan for them and probably spend hours reviewing possibilities prior to choosing the best fit for your child.

4 – Will you provide an allowance?

We never got an allowance.  We just asked Dad for cash and later got jobs and still asked Dad for cash.  It did us no great service.  I am 100% certain that my friends who had to manage even a $5 allowance per week were better at paying attention to where their money was going.  I am almost certain that, even now, they have a better developed impulse control.  I highly suggest considering an allowance just to teach your kids about the essence of money – how quickly and foolishly it can be spent. Teach those lessons early – allow your kids to make mistakes at a young age, and your kids will be better off in their adult years.

5 – Will you purchase their first car or car insurance?

One of my friends got a black Porsche on her 16th birthday.  She was spoiled rotten.  You might think that is the end of the story and she remains spoiled and churlish, but you couldn’t be more mistaken.  She loved her awesome car so much that she currently works very, very hard to maintain the lifestyle to which she was accustomed.  It may not be the way the average 16-year-old Porsche driver behaves at 38, but her gorgeous, impractical and over-the-top car actually inspired her.  Now, I’m not saying you should buy your kids expensive cars because it will make them reach for the stars, I am simply saying that affording your 16-year-old an incredible first car is not necessarily detrimental,though it is not necessary either.  Maybe my friend’s parents knew she was responsible and reward driven.  You will know your kid and you will be able to judge his or her limits.  But before you know your kids, it is a good idea to discuss what you want to offer your children come driving time.

6 – Do you expect your kids to get a job?  What age is appropriate?

This is a hard one.  Many parents do not want their children to take time away from homework and learning.  Some parents cannot afford to provide their children with the above mentioned Porsche and encourage their kids to find work asap.  I loved having all of my jobs and will always hire youngsters when I can.  I learned to feel capable and to be able to work with a team.  All great things to learn!!

7 – Do you believe in gifting them a graduation trip?

I know a couple of people who were allowed to travel Europe on their parent’s dime just after graduating from college.  They are fearless.  They know that they can figure out how to live in any city, in any country, knowing the language or not.   They also know they are very lucky because not many of their friends did the same thing.  It is very expensive, but they all say it was the best education their parents gave them.  I don’t know how you feel about it, but I feel travel is always worth the cost’

8 – Do you want to pay for college, and if so, how much?

There have been multitudes of incredible writings/essays/books/etc. on this topic.  An entire financial planning portion of the Winch Financial website that is set up for college savings alone.  It is an important matter that should be focused on very early in your children’s lives.  Talk about it when you’re pregnant and when your child gets his or her first birthday check and when they go to kindergarten, shoot, you’ll be discussing it until they graduate.  Again, it’s best to know what your spouse’s hopes are before your kids enter high school.  It takes planning no matter what your decision.

9 – If this is a second marriage, how much will a step-parent financially support your children?

Though there are a million practical reasons to have this conversation and plenty of emotional reasons you may be tempted to avoid it, this money talk remains essential to the success of any blended family, and it’s best to have it as soon as possible.