When to talk about salary with your kids; former treasurer weighs in

Jan 24, 2022, 4:18 PM | Updated: Jan 25, 2022, 4:23 pm
talk about salary...
Stock photo of US money. Photo: Adobe Stock

SALT LAKE CITY — What do you say when your kid(s) ask about your salary and what you make in a year? When is a good time to talk about salary with them?

A professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania went viral on Twitter after she shared a question she asked her students.

RELATED: Dave & Dujanovic: Six things you need to tell your kids about money

Professor Nina Strohminger, who teaches legal studies and business ethics, asked her students what they thought the average American worker earns per year. According to phillyvoice.com, 25% believed the mean annual income topped $100,000 and one student responded that it was $800,000. The professor’s question went viral on Twitter.


In reality, the average annual income in the United States in 2020 was $56,310, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ask the money expert

KSL NewsRadio hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic asked: Should parents disclose their salaries to their kids?

“I’m guilty of kind of using the ‘It’s none of your business’ routine with my own kids,” Debbie admitted. “Looking back now that they’re in their 20s, I wish I would have been more like Dave Noriega and sat down and roadmapped where we’re at, where we were going and how we were going to get there.

David Damshen, former Utah State treasurer, joined the discussion.


RELATED: Right On The Money: Should parents pay their kids for good grades?

“The key is making sure that you definitely spend the time with your kids talking about your budget and paying the bills,” Damshen advised. “The downside of talking about your earnings. . . . you might be sort of putting a sense of shame into your kids. . . . Or if you’re very high income, then you might have kids that are like, ‘Well, why can’t I have those $200 tennis shoes? What’s your problem, Dad?”

Damshen said he was surprised by the students’ lack of knowledge about salaries today in the country given how easily information about incomes can be obtained via the internet.

At what age should parents talk about salary with kids?

At whatever age, Damshen said, make sure your kids understand that moving up the income ladder can take time.

“How long did it take you or the average parent to get to a point of so-called financial stability and comfort? That’s one of the main things that our children need to understand is it takes a while to build up to these points in your life and your career. And you got to start somewhere. It’s not $100,000 a year for most of us; it’s going to be well south of that,” Damshen said.

Dave pointed out that it’s important for parents to be open but not to talk about salary to the point it makes the child uncomfortable.

“We don’t want the money stresses of our lives to fall directly on our kids,” he added.

Focus on expenses, Damshen advised, and begin the conversation about finances by asking your child a question like:

“What would you pay for rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Salt Lake right now? Look it up. It’s a lot,” he said.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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When to talk about salary with your kids; former treasurer weighs in