Let’s take a journey back to your high school or college days. Remember when you’d be low on cash to have fun with your friends or you’d be taking another loan out to pay for the upcoming semester? As students you probably never really sweat it since you’d either hit up your parents or lean on a credit card. You’d also probably flash forward in your mind to how life will be so much better once you land that full-time position and make serious money.
Oh those were the days, right? The only problem then (and now) was that too many high school and college students are really living day-to-day, beyond their means and amounting debt that will take years to overcome, if it could be overcome at all.
Right now you might be saying … “Heck, everyone has the same problem, so what’s the big deal”. Well it’s a big deal because the extra financial burden has many young Americans stressed and less productive. Matter of fact, according to a report from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits, 67% of millennials say financial stress overtakes their ability to focus and be productive at work and school. This is more than twice as likely than baby boomers — 32% of whom worry about the same thing.
“Traditionally college graduation marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another,” says BusyKid CEO & Certified Financial Planner Gregg Murset. “However these days, the start of the journey into the “real world” comes with a lot more financial worries. These young adults have been set up to fail thanks to a lack of financial education, direct marketing by credit card companies and student loans.”
Upon graduation, many young adults are hit with a wall of personal finance dilemmas. Some will need to pay rent, find a job, pay off student debt (the average student loan debt at graduation in 2016 was $37,132), and most of them will have no idea where to start because they’ve never been taught.
So parents, here are some things you can do or teach your kids before they graduate. Sure, they will still make mistakes or bad choices, but heck, no one is perfect. You can teach someone to ride a bike but they still might crash, right? Use the suggestions below this as your guide and there’s an excellent chance your children won’t be living with you when he/she turn 30.
Don’t Count On Your High School … Right now in the US the majority of high school graduates never take a single class on personal finance or economics. Without the basic understanding of financial terms and practices, your children will be totally unprepared. If your school doesn’t teach a minimum of one year on basic finance, it’s up to you to give your kids the tools they will need. Thank goodness for the Internet!
Modern Money … Yes, dollars and cents are still used, but not as much as you think. It’s estimated that less than 10% of the currency in the world is actually paper or coins. This means your children need to know how to manage “invisible money”, including paying bills and ensuring bank accounts don’t hit zero. Stop writing checks and use online services while your kids are young enough to do it with you and can learn by example.
Saving Money … Seems simple but 39% of Americans admit to having zero in a savings account. 57% say they have less than $1000 in a savings account. Teach your children to take a portion of any money they get (birthday, holiday, babysitting, mowing grass, etc.) and place it in a savings account. As a rule, 50% should go to savings. (40% to spend and 10% to share.)
Investing … If your children ever want to retire, they will need to invest money somewhere along the way. Lucky for them there are plenty of resources available to teach them how, including some fantasy investing games which would allow them the chance to invest pretend money. With BusyKid they can invest a small portion of their weekly allowance. Practice makes perfect … or at least better educated.
Credit Cards … As soon as your children hit a certain age, they will be bombarded with marketing materials from credit card companies. So be ready! If you want your children to have a card, make sure you sign up for spending notifications or that it’s only used for emergencies. Make sure to pick a card with a low annual percentage rate and it is paid off each month. This can be dangerous territory, so if there’s one place to be overprotective as a parent, it’s here.
Student Loans … Designed to help students get to college with the promise of paying them back later, student loans can serve a great purpose. The problem has become, everyone has the best intentions to pay them back, but something goes terribly wrong. Currently U.S. student loan debt is $1.5 trillion and nearly 9 million loans are in default. Have your children follow this simple rule – don’t borrow more than they would earn in their first year out of school. In other words, if your child is going to make $24,000 as a first-year teacher (about $20,000 after taxes), don’t take $50,000 in loans.
Compound Interest … Compound interest is when a bank pays interest on both the principal (the original amount of money) and the interest an account has already earned. As an example, if you put $1000 in the bank with compound interest of 10%, in 20 years the $1,000 would be more than $7,000. Without compound interest, it would be $3,000.
Overwhelming? It certainly can be but any disaster can be avoided. You still have time. Maybe you had all the answers when you graduated high school or college, but if not, help your kids learn from your mistakes. Listen, if you knew your child was going to fly a plane a few months after graduating high school, wouldn’t you make sure he/she knew everything there was to know to avoid a crash? Well, a financial crash may not be a painful but it can be just as devastating.