Children, as is often the case, start asking their parents for things from the minute they start talking. It’s your job to make sure they’re taken care of — healthy food, an education, a comforting home, all the proper amenities, and so forth. However, as your children enter high school, they’re going to start asking for different and more expensive things — such as extra spending money and more elaborate hobbies and activities. Teaching your high school student about the value of money and how to make it stretch is one of the most important lessons they can take into adulthood.
If you’re looking for ways to ensure your high school senior enters college with a grasp on how to be a fiscally responsible adult, here are a few ways you can get started:
- Help them build their own personal budget. If your high school senior has a part-time job, they’re already taking a big step in developing good financial habits and budget-building. However, you can take a step even further by helping them work out where their money is going. Assessing their weekly expenditures — such as snacks / lunch at school, extracurricular activities, time with friends — can go a long way in determining what’s a “need” and what’s a “want.”
- Guide them through real-life financial experiences. There are plenty of “adult” tasks that your high school senior can assist with so they can develop the tools to manage those tasks after they’ve moved away to college. For instance, having them help build a grocery list and shop with you can teach them how to budget for food and other household amenities. You can also show them your weekly or monthly budget spreadsheet so they can see how far your family’s money can be spent. If they are going to a college that doesn’t offer on-campus meal plans, this will go a long way.
- Add financial education into your everyday activities. Every high school senior can benefit from what some call “teachable moments,” and you can do it without even trying too hard. For instance, you can show them how moderating your thermostat can affect your monthly electric bill, which is an essential part of any household budget. You can also use your grocery shopping trips to decide together which brands or products are a better value for the cost.
- What comes after high school? Every high schooler has to graduate and enter the adult world, and all you can do is ensure they have the best financial toolbox. If your teenager plans to attend college, sit down and talk together about how their education will be paid for, whether they plan to attend a local college or one that’s further away, and if they want to take on a part-time job while in school. When you help your teenager visualize the real-life costs that come with being an adult, they benefit greatly as they ease into being a college graduate or adulthood in general.