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How to Talk to Your Daughter About Personal Debt

As a nation of indebted citizens, it’s up to parents to educate their kids about responsibly handling personal debt and managing money once they leave the nest. And, since March is the month we pay tribute to all the strong women in our lives, now is also a good time to speak to your daughter about personal finance.

Do women have the short end of the financial stick?

One-in-three Canadian millennials feel crushed by their debt load. Gen Xers and parents feel the same. And since there’s not a huge focus on financial literacy in Canadian schools, once kids graduate from college or university, they’re not always equipped to deal with managing money, let alone the mountains of student debt they’ve acquired. Women are especially at risk to end up in a lower-paying job, take on more debt and struggle with affordability factors more than men.

So how can you ensure your daughter is well-equipped with the financial knowledge she will need to manage money and avoid taking on too much personal debt?

The importance of saving early and often

You may have begun this lesson with the introduction of a weekly allowance when your child was young. Does “save half, spend half” sound familiar? Those lessons are just as important as your daughter embarks on her own financial journey. A dedicated approach to savings can keep your daughter from relying on debt, provide financial security when unforeseen circumstances come up, and allow her financial autonomy so she doesn’t need to rely on a partner for financial support.

Not all debts are created equal

Post-secondary debt is not joke. And it can take 10 years or more to pay off. However, educational debt is often seen as more favourable or beneficial since it’s considered an investment in your child’s future. A post-secondary degree or diploma can also secure a higher-paying career. High-interest credit card debt and personal loans, on the other hand, can quickly snowball into a hard-to-pay-back debt load which hinders goals and eats paycheques.

Talk with your daughter about the importance of:

 

Set goals and aim for them

Starting a family or buying a home might not be on your daughter’s to-do list right now, but planning ahead will ensure that when the time comes, she will be prepared. Use this guide from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to plan short, medium and long-term, achievable money goals.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There is still a stigma around discussing money, especially when it comes to personal debt. Talk to your daughter about looking for help when its needed. This might mean:

  • speaking to a debt professional such as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee for personal debt solutions and advice — or a credit counsellor for budgeting and money management education.
  • utilizing resources such as financial blogs, online modules or online tools to help with financial literacy. We recommend Christine Drummond’s blog, The Wallet Diet, along with Your Financial Toolkit provided by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. You can also navigate through our debt help tools here.
  • attending community events such as financial literacy workshops at your local library.

 

You want your daughter to succeed in life. Provide her the best tools for her journey by making financial literacy a regular topic of discussion. Even better, make a regular date to talk about finances together over coffee. This will help your daughter stay motivated to meet her daily money and personal debt goals.

What other tips would you add to this list? Have you talked openly and honestly with your daughter about money management and personal debt?

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