Money Lessons for Sons and Daughters

Recent surveys have shown a gender gap in the amount of financial education children receive, but these lessons can help either sex get the skills they need.
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Women are not as good with financial matters as men.

It’s a stubborn stereotype, and if there is any truth to that statement, it may be because it has been made into a self-fulfilling prophecy by differences in how boys and girls are raised. A recent survey by T. Rowe Price found that parents are more likely to discuss financial goals with their sons than with their daughters, and that boys are twice as likely to have their own credit cards as girls.

This comes on the heels of a survey that found that boys are more likely than girls to receive financial education in school. So, both at home and at school, girls are being shortchanged when it comes to financial lessons.

Money wisdom for all children

Given that men and women alike have to manage their personal finances, it is equally important to teach boys and girls some fundamental money skills. Here are six financial lessons you should teach each of your kids before they leave the nest:

  1. Basic budgeting. From the age when children are old enough to spend money, you should start teaching them how to plan expenditures so they don’t exceed their allowances or other sources of income. Ramp up these lessons when your kids get their first jobs, so you can teach them how to make their paychecks last.
  2. Handling a checking account. Don’t open a checking account for your kids without teaching them how to record transactions, update the balance and periodically reconcile their records with the bank’s. It also helps to go through their first few statements with them, to help them understand the format and terminology, and also to make sure they are keeping up with their records.
  3. Responsible use of credit. You should not even consider getting your children their own credit cards until you have had a chance to explain how credit works. Point out just how expensive credit card interest is, and stress that borrowing should be a temporary measure that should never be undertaken without a clear plan for paying the money back.
  4. Investment fundamentals. Investing is a subject that one continues to learn about throughout life, but you can get kids started by explaining the trade-off between risk and reward, and by discussing major investment stories with them so they can start to gain some vicarious experience before they have any money at risk.
  5. Salary negotiation. Women have historically suffered from a gender gap in compensation. You can help make sure your daughters don’t fall victim to this by teaching them salary negotiation skills. The emphasis should be on knowing the marketplace and making a case for themselves that demonstrates how they add value to their employers.
  6. Saving for retirement. Time is a valuable ally when it comes to building retirement savings, so this is a natural subject for early education. After all, if someone does not introduce the topic, a young person is unlikely to give any thought to retirement saving.

To make sure all of your children are financially savvy, it is key to not fall into the gender bias trap of assuming that boys are more apt or interested when it comes to money. Giving kids equal attention when it comes to financial education is the surest way of closing the gender gap.

About Author
Richard Barrington has been a Senior Financial Analyst for MoneyRates. He has appeared on Fox Business News and NPR, and has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, CNBC and many other publications. Richard has over 30 years of experience in financial services. He has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation from the Association of Investment Management and Research (now the “CFA Institute”).