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The Simple Concepts Are the Strongest When Talking to Kids About Money

By Motley Fool Staff - Oct 9, 2017 at 3:49PM

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The people trying to sell you financial products often make finance seem more complicated than it has to be.

In this Motley Fool Answers video segment, Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp are joined by personal finance guru, journalist, and author Beth Kobliner, whose most recent best-seller is Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You're Not): A Parents' Guide for Kids 3 to 23. It offers a raft of straightforward advice for teaching your children the skills and habits that will lead them to lifelong financial stability. And you don't need to be a money savant to do it, because some of the best advice you can give involves the least complicated ideas.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Sept. 12, 2017.

Alison Southwick: But talking to kids about money is obviously something people don't love to do, so what is some parting advice for our listeners who are ready to get in there and start talking about money?

Beth Kobliner: Honestly -- and I think you guys would agree -- a lot of this stuff is made so complicated often by the people who are selling you things in this field. Start saving right away in like a 401(k) with matching if you have that at work. That's a no-brainer. That's free money. When would you turn down free money? Pay off those high rate credit card debts. I think those two concepts, alone -- teaching your kids that -- will go such a long way for making them successful in life and, of course, index funds or ETFs. Putting money in those.

You don't have to be a money genius to teach your kid to be a money genius, and that's not just a slogan. That's really something I feel so strongly. That by demystifying it -- I hope in my book -- whether your kids are really little or you're starting later in the game and your kids are teenagers or even moving back home post college with you, you want [them] to know that it's not that difficult, and by reading my book or learning this information you can teach your kids the habits that will last a lifetime, and that's so valuable and necessary.

Robert Brokamp: Since you bring up index funds, another thing that you discuss in the book is teaching kids how to invest ...

Kobliner: Right ...

Brokamp: You're actually not a big fan of opening a brokerage account for a kid ...

Kobliner: No ...

Brokamp: ... and then having them buy five individual stocks.

Kobliner: I'm not. I've heard so many stories of parents. "Like, yeah, my kid is just a brilliant financial whiz. He picked the two best stocks." And the next person is like, "Oh, my kid. He'll never be an investor. She'll never be an investor. Look at how poorly they did." It's basically a random walk. We know that. A random net walk down Wall Street. You could throw darts at a dartboard of listed stocks and you'd probably do just as well as putting it in an index fund.

So, I strongly believe that for the vast majority of young people, [it's important to] explain an index fund. [Explain] diversification to young kids. Explain why this is the smart thing to do. We talked about this before. In the eighties it was about greed and how you get the most that you can.

I think for this generation -- certainly the Millennials I talk to -- they want enough money to live the life they want to live. And I think your best shot at that is something like an index fund or an ETF invested in an index like the S&P or a broad-based index. I'm a real believer in those.

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