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When my children were young, they went to a private school for several years. It was pretty hard to explain why we couldn’t also buy trendy Roots leather jackets or take annual March break trips. We just told them we couldn’t afford these extras.
An Ipsos Reid survey commissioned by the TD Bank Group and the ABC Life Literacy Council reveals that one-third of young people between 10 and 17 wish their parents would talk to them about family finances more often. About 20 per cent say they usually have to initiate conversations about money and finances with their parents.
Related: Kids and money: a 15-point plan
That’s why I was intrigued when CIBC Wood Gundy investment advisor Stan Tepner sent me an invitation to a seminar called InvesTEEN101he runs for his clients’ teen children and grandchildren.
It all started six or seven years ago when Tepner was making a presentation to a client who said his wife and five teenaged kids could benefit from the same information. “We got together on a Sunday afternoon, and it worked out really well. Since then I’ve offered similar seminars about once a year to my whole client base,” Tepner says.
Because there is no agenda or prepared slides, no two sessions are the same. He starts by asking the kids what money means to them and responses are recorded on a flip chart under different categories. He usually ends up covering a broad range of subjects like budgeting, needs vs. wants and investment basics.
Between 25 and 30 teenagers typically attend each seminar. Why do they come? “Some teens attend because they are interested. Others never knew this world existed and become interested. Others will never have any interest, but attend because their parents desperately want them to,” Tepner says.
Nevertheless, by the end of the 90 minutes everyone participates in some way and Tepner says he gets great feedback. “I had one kid who came at 17 with a bit of personal interest and now he’s an investment banker in Tokyo.”
He doesn’t expect every child to turn into a financial guru, but he’s also had lots of emails from parents and kids who say the sessions helped to both open up a dialogue about money in their homes and spark an interest in family investments.
Tepner gives his wife Marcy credit for teaching their two sons an important lesson very early on. “Every time they got money gifts or earned few dollars, she had them deposit one third of the amount in each of three jars labelled spending, saving and charity. That way they learned that money is not just for spending. Some is for later on, and some is for people who need our help.”