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Time for the money talk

Had "the talk" with your kids yet? No, not birds and bees - money.

Set aside Thursday, which has been designated National Money Night Talk. That's right, we're talking money and how to discuss finances with your 12-to-20-something children.



Sure, it's co-sponsored by a credit card company - American Express - but the bigger point is initiating a money conversation to get parents and kids financially together.



It's spearheaded by personal finance author, columnist and TV commentator Jean Chatzky, who's written a number of books on money management. She's also a mother of two teenagers who is conversant with talking dollars-and-sense with kids.

Her website, moneynighttalk.com, walks parents through the how-tos of a money talk. Focus on Chatzky's sample questions and answers, such as:



• If money is tight in our house right now, what do I say?

"That money is tight in your house right now. Believe me, your kids already know this. They sense the tension. You can bring down everyone's blood pressure by talking and empowering your kids to help you save on the family budget."



• How long should a money talk last?

"Don't force yourself to adhere to a timetable. Even a 15-minute conversation over dinner can make an impact ... and assuming it goes well (which it will), you leave the door open for follow-ups."



• What if I'm asked a question I don't want to answer?

"You mean like, 'How much do you earn?' It's OK to dodge that one, because you don't want to be the cause of competitive earning in the neighborhood. Twist it, and say: 'Let's talk about how much it costs us to live as we do.' "



Chatzky breaks down the topics by age - middle school, high school and college - and offers conversational tips on everything from setting allowances to paying for college to buying a car to getting a job.



The timing couldn't be better. In a recent survey of teens by Capital One Financial Corp., 53 percent said they want to learn more about budgeting, saving and credit, while a third said that parents rarely discuss the topics when doling out money.

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