We celebrate our nation’s independence this week, but many young adults can’t declare freedom from the financial shackles of their parents. Between rising education costs, a narrow job market and a lack of money savvy, some kids fly the coop after high school graduation only to boomerang back to their parents hoping for handouts.
A University of Michigan study found that more than 60 percent of young adults ages 19 to 22 rely on Mom and Dad to help pay for living expenses like rent, transportation and tuition. A recent Adecco Graduation Survey found that 2 percent of college grads still have their parents foot the entire bill for their cost of living.
Unfortunately, this dependency can take its toll. An online poll by Forbes and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found that 26 percent of parents took on additional debts to support their young adult kids while another 7 percent delayed retirement.
This sad financial arrangement is a bit like Solidcashsolutions USA loans, when the colonies were content to rely on the British Empire for all of their needs. It took a strong dose of tyranny and taxes for colonists to realize they were getting the short end of the stick in this alliance. Similarly, until kids are given the necessary push into financial independence, they’ll lack the know-how and incentive to find the kind of liberty that makes them successful adults.
We’re not saying parents have to ignite a revolution over money with their kids. But if you can instill teens with the tools needed to achieve solid footing, they may be able to financially “grow knee-high by the Fourth of July.”
Get the Allowance Going
If you haven’t embarked on this basic Money 101 lesson, it’s not too late to start it, no matter how small the amount. Giving your teens an allotted allowance is like financial independence with training wheels.
Because the money is theirs alone, your kids will start to form their own thoughts about how to use it. If they want to buy something specifically, they’re forced to pick and choose what they want with their limited cash flow.
Be sure that your teen knows what the allowance is for, why it’s given and how they can set up a savings plan. Avoid giving more than the specified allowance to encourage the real world concept of saving versus spending. While they have your safety net for basic needs now, an allowance demonstrates what purchases can benefit them, and which ones leave them empty-handed.
Empower Teens With Earning Potential
If your teen demonstrates the emotional maturity and responsibility to embark on a side job, it’s one step above an allowance in establishing money values. To teens, it reveals a broader scope of the idea that income is earned, rather than an unlimited flow of cash to serve their wants.
If you’re concerned about finding the right job to suit their age, consider these age-appropriate options.
For tweens, babysitting or weeding neighbors’ yards can be a good fit.
For 14 to 16 year olds, bagging groceries, bussing tables or dishwashing at restaurants gives them entry-level experience that’s both humbling but also integral to the business at hand.
For teens 16 years and older, they can try positions that have some more complex responsibilities. Fast food workers, pizza delivery persons, theater attendants and lifeguards are all positions that require little experience or provide on the job training. These positions can also help build crucial social skills needed for future positions. If you’re concerned about age restrictions, check with your town’s ordinances.
If the potential to earn their own cash isn’t enough motivation to help them secure a side job, get involved in the job hunting process to help ease any of your teens’ hesitations. Help them dress the part for the interview, practice interview questions and responses or help them draft up a resume.
Break Down The Numbers
Nothing provides a greater reality check than when you paint a picture of how quickly daily expenses can gobble up your income. Whether your teen is headed off to a dorm or staying under your roof, sit down with them to outline the costs and your expectations for their contributions.
According to the Forbes and NEFE survey, about 75 percent of young adults living at home contribute to paying for living expenses. When they understand their responsibilities before setting out into young adulthood, it may be easier for both you and your teen to temper lifestyle desires and reign in spending. Don’t hesitate to put your financial arrangement in writing to solidify your expectations for contributions.
If your bank account is in the position to let them focus on school instead of juggling a job with their studies, you can still use a similar principle to help establish the kind of motivated mindset that’s vital to financial independence. Detail the costs of paying for their education and give grade contingencies—if they don’t achieve a certain grade benchmark, let them know they may have to start chipping in to foot the tuition bill.
Allow Mistakes To Happen
An old adage says that we have the chance to learn from our mistakes, and teen money blunders are no exception. By and large, these mistakes operate on a smaller, more manageable scale than if they were thousands of dollars in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. Still, these mistakes can teach the kind of lessons that help teens avoid those unfortunate circumstances in the future.
Maybe your teen blew $400 worth of savings on an Xbox 360 console and games. On the way home from buying the system, your teen blows out two car tires riding over a bunch of construction nails left in the roadway. When your kid is stuck at home instead of having the means to drive with friends or get to a part-time job because they can’t afford the tires, they may rethink their priorities.
Unless teens can experience firsthand the impact of mishandling cash, they may continue to treat money as an intangible, inconsequential idea. If they’ve misspent their allowance or missed a bill, don’t just fix the problem yourself. Offer them solutions on how they can fix it themselves so that they can build confidence in handling sticky money situations.
Don’t Let Love Get In The Way
Letting go financially works both ways. When you’ve had your children rely on you for everything, it may feel nice to be needed when they’ve started asserting their independence. But when empty nest parents pounce too quickly to fulfill every need of young adult children, it might be detrimental not only to your finances but diminish their motivation.
The Pew Research Center reveals that 78 percent of young adults living with Mom and Dad actually enjoy it. If they have the perks of being an adult along with the advantages of being a kid, it can make it that much harder to cut the cord on cash flow. If you can give them a taste of adulthood as a teen, financial freedom may feel like a less daunting task to master.