As an African-American woman who didn’t grow up talking with my parents about money, I know how important it is to change this pattern. Looking back, I can see the detrimental impact it had on my money mindset, my behaviors, and my relationship with money.
I didn’t know how to manage money and I didn’t know anything about a budget. I was so used to seeing my mom just paying the bills. But now, I’ve learned that there’s a huge difference between paying bills and actually budgeting each and every month.
Not to take away from my parents, because they couldn’t teach me what they didn’t know. But one of the things that I wish I had as a child was those candid money conversations. The ones where we talked about good and bad choices, and how to plan for a better future. Instead, I was left wondering why we couldn’t have certain things and why we had to move so often.
“In so many Black households, particularly those in low-to-moderate income communities, financial literacy is almost non-existent.”
But times are changing, and as I’m now raising my own children, I’d like to share from my experience why Black parents need to prioritize having financial conversations with their kids.
To build a positive money mindset
When we don’t have enough money to buy our kids what they want, or when we can’t afford to take the vacations other families are taking, or if things are even worse financially and our kids watching us struggle to pay essential bills, the worst thing we can do is sweep it under the rug and pretend that nothing is wrong.
Ignoring money problems can lead to a negative view of money, as something to stress over, hoard, and fear. As a Black parent, you might have experienced an ongoing generational lack. It can be a difficult pattern to break.
Begin by teaching your children how money works. Show them how your family earns money. Talk about how you spend money, when you make the good (and sometimes hard) choices and even when you make poor ones. Talk about debt, both good and bad. Work together to make a family budget and practice sticking to it. Talk about saving and investments.
Basically, include your kids in financial conversations so they become financially aware. And make sure they understand it’s okay to ask questions and initiate money conversations, too. It’s easy to fear what we don’t understand, so help them learn that money is a tool to be respected, not avoided.
To learn from the past and make a better future
The history of financial inequality toward African Americans is startling. From the shameful practice of denying loans to Black Americans trying to purchase a home to generational poverty, it’s a past we need to make sure our kids don’t forget.
We remember so we can make a difference. We learn from our own mistakes, and the past wrongs of others, so that we can be stronger and teach our kids to make their own future better.
Black parents need to have these tough conversations with their kids, not to dredge up the past and dwell in it, but to acknowledge its impact and to move forward. So encourage your kids to ask questions and learn, and then challenge them to take positive action to change the financial narrative for their future.
To learn proper money management
We talked a bit about money management when we discussed mindset. But it’s so important to learn early how to manage personal finances, so I wanted to focus on it again.
In so many Black households, particularly those in low-to-moderate income communities, financial literacy is almost non-existent. Children are growing up with no idea how to budget, save, or spend wisely. It’s led to widespread poverty and a devastating wealth gap.
By having regular conversations about proper money management, you’re giving your kids the chance to start bridging that gap. Teach them how to open a bank account, start saving, and create a financial plan.
Allow them to see the ups and downs in your own finances so they can be prepared to handle times of affluence and struggle. And talk about how their own choices can affect their future. Show them how to develop good money habits that will help them avoid the major pitfalls of bad debt and overspending.
As Black parents, we have a responsibility to help our kids make a better future by continuing to educate ourselves and having these money conversations with our children.
Today is a great time to start and commit to having ongoing money conversations with your children. I want to encourage you to keep communication with your children open when it comes to finances. There is an unfortunate wealth gap in America. But the best way to begin closing it is to start the discussion.
SHARITA M. HUMPHREY
Sharita M. Humphrey is an award-winning finance expert, money mentor and Certified Financial Education Instructor. Once broke and homeless, Sharita completely transformed her life and is now a successful entrepreneur and one of the most in-demand money coaches for individuals and business owners of color. In 2020, Sharita was named the National Financial Educator of the Year.