Avoiding fights, teaching teens about money

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Q. My brother isn’t good with money and his teenagers aren’t doing too well either. I want to give them advice but I don’t want to get in a fight with my brother, who never wants to talk about money. Any suggestions?
— Uncle

A. You certainly are entering into dangerous territory.

Having the “money talk” is not easy because most people are uncomfortable disclosing their finances.

If you get into fights with your brother because you want to talk to his teenagers about money, there may be deeper triggers for your brother when talking about money, said Clare Wherley, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.

“With that being said, depending on how much you want to help your nephews, ask yourself are you willing to deal with the repercussions of your brother,” Wherley said. “If your answer is yes, then offer advice, don’t lecture, and be genuine and truthful in what you tell them.”

Wherley said if you decide to go ahead, you can plan fun “no money dates” with the teens, and it will give you teachable moments.

“`No money dates’ can be whatever you want them to be,” she said. “The objective is to show the teens that it is possible to have fun with little or no money.”

Wherley said this expand into a “no money date” challenge.

For example, she said, if they receive an allowance, see how much can they save “monthly” by planning no money dates. You can be the coach. At the end of a few months, they, as well as your brother, would be surprised at what can be saved.

“Bottom line, whether an adult, teen, or child, talking about money will require some repetition and they will eventually follow your lead, if you are a good steward of your finances and honest with them,” she said.

Another approach to this often-taboo topic is to share some reading material or go to a seminar together, said Dean Shah, a certified financial planner with Stonegate Wealth Management in Oakland.

You may be able to avoid an argument with your brother that way.

And if you can’t?

“Although money is a touchy subject, it may be worth the argument – especially for your nieces and/or nephews,” Shah said.

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NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.