Money: It's a family affair

Making money talk safe.

  • Published: Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012

MARSHALL, Mo. – If money makes the world go around, then not having enough of it can bring your smoothly spinning world to a screeching halt.

Money is the No. 1 issue that families fight over, notes Cynthia Crawford, a University of Missouri Extension professional and family financial education specialist. Living hand-to-mouth is stressful, and money problems can embroil your family in continual arguments and disagreements.

“Boy, are we in a land mine when we talk about finances,”Crawford said.

Crawford suggests trying to find safe ways to talk about money. Rather than complaining about the budget, have your family discuss goals. Setting financial goals will allow family members to suggest ways to meet those goals.

For example, you could talk about how to add to a savings account, build a nest egg, add to an emergency fund or save for a big-ticket item. If you give every family member an opportunity to find ways to save money, their innovation and resourcefulness may surprise you, Crawford said.

Of course, talking about money and setting financial goals should involve the entire family, she said. That includes the children who are old enough to understand.

“We raise our children socially, physically and spiritually. I suggest we have to raise them financially too,” Crawford said. “Otherwise, money can literally make them miserable.”

Teaching your children the difference between needs and wants will give them useful skills as they journey through life, she said. “I think it can cause more problems than good if a person has a blank check in life. Otherwise, how do you ever look at your values and say, ‘This is important, this is less important, this is worth doing, this is not worth doing’?”

University of Missouri Extension offers a wealth of information to help families manage money. You can start with the MU Extension publication “Money Management: Living on Less” (GH3600), available for free download at

Writer: Debbie Johnson

Media Contact

Cynthia Crawford

Use Tab key to loop through the section below. Press Enter or Space to enter content for each tab button. Press Esc key to exit and to go to the next section at any time.

Extension resources