Teaching children what money is all about

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Teaching children what money is all about
Teaching children what money is all about

Conversations with our children about money don’t stop when they are grown up. This guide tells you more about how to handle conversations if you want to ask them to become more financially independent from you and what they should do if they want to their parent to be a guarantor for a loan, according to www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Asking adult children to contribute to household expenses

The economy is tough on grown up children, but this does not mean you have to write them a blank cheque. Lots of them are living at home for longer as the cost of living is rising and it takes longer to get onto the property ladder.

Parents have to try to balance wanting to soften their child’s entry into the big world full of financial responsibility, while making sure they are still financially secure themselves.

If you can no longer afford, or want to cover all the cost of washing, Internet use, phone calls, insurance, food among others that your adult children are spending, you may have to offer up some tough love rather than hard cash.

After all, if you make sure you are financially secure, you are better placed to support yourself and your family for the long term.

Clear communication with your children is key. They may not even realise how much the financial support they receive from you is costing if you have never told them.

Be honest about the financial impact they make, create a plan to end the support or suggest a time frame for reducing it.

Encourage your child to complete a budget, so they are able to see what things cost, as well as organise their own finances.

Your love for your children, and theirs for you, is not linked with money. It might feel like indulging them is for the best – the best thing for them in the long term is letting them know their costs and giving them an opportunity to start standing on their own two feet.

The sooner young people learn to take responsibility for money and make their own spending and saving choices, and understand the full implications of living independently, the better they will be prepared for the realities of adult life.

Most children will be happy to pay towards household costs when asked to, and most parents will want to help their children when they can. However, sometimes adult children can try to control parents’ or older family members’ money.

This could be by demanding cash or running up debts in their name, often accompanied by threats of physical or emotional abuse if the person refuses to comply. When this happens, starting a money conversation could put someone at risk of emotional or physical harm. They may also feel isolated and fearful of speaking out about the abuse.

It is important to know that financial abuse is a criminal offence and if you are experiencing it, you don’t need to struggle alone. There are lots of help out there.

Asking your parents to be a guarantor

If you are not earning much or are finding it difficult to borrow money, you may want to ask for help from your parents to get a loan, mortgage or sign a tenancy agreement.

One way to do this is to ask them to become a guarantor – a third-party person who provides financial assurance that loan repayments or the rent will be met by them if you are unable to pay.

If you get your guarantor to co-sign on the loan or tenancy agreement, they will be legally bound to the financial requirements just as you are.

This is why a guarantor is someone who would need to have a considerable amount of trust in you, and why often it is parents who take on the burden.

When asking your parents to be your guarantor, be honest with them regardless of your history with money and loans. They are probably familiar with your financial standing and spending habits, so there is no point in beating around the bush.

What matters most is assuring them that you will be responsible and say up front if any financial issues come up. To give them confidence in you, it is a good idea to:

  • Share with them your monthly budget so they can see how exactly you plan to pay your rent and other bills.
  • Work with them to come up with a back-up plan together in case you fall behind on repayments and need to get back on track.
  • Make sure you have explored all other options before asking. Do you really need to borrow? Is it worth waiting until you can afford repayments yourself or you have built up a good credit score?
  • Make sure the guarantors get their own independent advice, only ask them to guarantee what they are comfortable with and above all, make sure everybody understands what they are getting themselves into.

Things you should make sure your parents are aware of

  • Do they completely understand their responsibilities as a guarantor?
  • Do they understand the legal liabilities and what they mean if you were to default on the payment?
  • Do they realise that the worse case scenario could mean them losing their home? Most parents think it would never happen to them, but it is actually quite common.
  • Are they really able to afford to cover your debt?

*Do they feel pressured into being a guarantor? There is usually a feeling of emotional obligation.