Sep 24, 2019

Sending Home Dinner Table Questions in Your Family Newsletter

Thanks to 2019 Fellow, Laura Schoenike, for sharing this great practice as October 1st is just a week away!



In case you missed it, yesterday was the last day of summer 2019! And in case your daily grind and social media pics haven’t reminded you enough...back to school season is in full force! Something that families in my district LOVE, is keeping tabs on what their students have been up to in class. One way I accomplish keeping them in the loop is through a family newsletter, and my favorite section is “Dinner Table Questions,” or topics for parents/guardians to bring up for discussion with their teenager at home, maybe over a meal. These topics connect to our most current unit of study and are updated monthly. They’re phrased as if students were magically going home and asking these questions on their own to help make it all the more likely that they will indeed do so, but since many of them are not comfortable with these conversations yet, we push a little responsibility onto the families by asking them to just start sharing. This often sparks a lot more questions! Here are some examples from my past newsletters that have done well with my families!

Full disclaimer: As much as I and I both FULLY know not all families read my newsletters super carefully. But, in all reality, if these questions help just one family to start having more discussions about finance, my time is totally worth it!


  • What was your most recent job interview like? How many interviewers, what kinds of questions, etc.?
  • How much did you earn at your first part-time job ever? First full-time job ever? 
  • What kind of benefits does your job have? Which perks do you like the best?



  • How did we file our taxes last year? Did we pay in or get a refund?
  • Would you rather have to pay in, get a refund, or “break even” when you file your income taxes?
    • Financial experts say that “break even” is the BEST answer here (then the government wasn’t just holding onto your money when you could’ve been investing it)...but why do most people prefer a refund? 
  • Do we pay any property taxes? If so, how much are they each year?
  • In school we learned about the many things our government budget has to pay for in a year. Which budgetary items do you find most important? Which do you think should get more/less of the national budget than they do now? Why?



  • What made you choose your current bank/credit union? Have you ever looked at others? 
  • Do you balance your checkbook every month? Why or why not?
  • What mobile services (if any) do you use? How did these change how you bank?  



  • Do we have debt as a family? If so, is it for a house, a car, a credit card, etc.? Do we have a plan or timeline to pay off the debt?
  • What’s the ballpark of your credit score? How could we improve it? 
  • What’s the plan for any post-secondary education I pursue? Am I on my own or are y'all helping me out at all? 



  • What do you know about the stock market?
  • Do you have a plan for retirement yet? At what age do you plan to or want to retire? Do you plan to spend more or less than you currently do? 
  • We're learning about index funds. Do we invest in any of those?
  • Could we currently open a Roth IRA for me (the student)? 



  • When in your life have you been MOST grateful for insurance? 
  • If you add me as a driver or already have added me, how does this impact our auto insurance rates? 



  • Do you plan a monthly budget for our household? If so, what tools do you use (spreadsheet, app, cash envelopes, paper and pencil, etc.)?
  • How do we handle unexpected expenses? Do we have an emergency fund?
  • If you could go back in time, what is one spending decision you would “undo?"


...and because I’m sure your ever-growing to-do list is already longer than you’d hoped, let me make things a little easier! Here's a template of how I use these questions in family newsletters for my classes. I hope you find it useful!

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