Are you the parent to a teenager? If your child in their last few years of high school or already in college, it can be difficult to have them sit down to give important life advice. Some teens want to believe that they know everything that they will need to know, but that is almost never the case.
As a parent, you need to make sure that your child is as prepared as possible for the financial challenges that they may face as an adult. Start this financial education journey by discussing one or more of the following topics with your teen:
The Need for a Budget
When teenagers go to college, they will be tempted to buy a lot of things, especially if it will be their first time living on their own. Remind your kids to always keep an eye on their bank account and tell them about how quickly small purchases can add up. They may be more likely to pay attention to their spending habits if their money is broken into monthly or weekly payouts, which is also good practice for when they start working and depend on paychecks.
Ask them to come up with a rudimentary budget before leaving for college. You can explain to them that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and that it can be adjusted in the future as they learn their own spending habits. A good budget is simply a tool for monitoring where money goes and being aware of increased spending in any given period.
The Impact of Student Loans
If your child needs to apply for student loans, they should understand the impact these loans could have later in their life. While in the short term it seems like a windfall, it is critical that college students understand the consequences of taking out such a large loan. Help your student realize the future impact of these loans by explaining the payoff schedule and showing them the additional interest payments that they will owe to the loan provider above the loan’s principle amount.
The Benefit of Scholarships
Unlike a student loan, a scholarship is a gift to students. Students, however, sometimes resist applying for scholarships because of the lengthy application process – especially if the scholarship requires an essay. Encourage your child to look at the benefits of a scholarship as opposed to a student loan, though, and they may be a little more willing to work for the “free” money available to them. Help them search for applicable scholarship using one of the many aggregators available, such as Fastweb and Scholarships.com.
The Danger of Credit Cards
When walking around a college campus, students are bombarded with credit card offers. These would typically be easy to ignore, but these dealers know what college students like, and will offer free pizza, t-shirts, and other gifts to those who are willing to sign up. They will say “You don’t even have to use it!” to lure in unsuspecting SWAG-hunters. Thankfully, your child will know better than to sign up for unnecessary credit cards once you explain to them the effect it could have on their credit score, and the future impact of present bad decisions.
The Significance of Personal Finance Knowledge
Nowadays, it seems that students get a high school diploma without learning any relevant life skills. Ask your student about the importance of auto insurance, or the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA – odds are they will have no idea what to say.
Every person that is coming of age deserves to have a basic knowledge of personal finance to increase their chances of success in the ‘real world.’ If you feel that your child is lacking in this area of their education, advise them to take a personal finance class either at college or even online.
The Thought of College as an Investment
Your student should know that going to college is an investment in their education. They shouldn’t make this commitment lightly and need to realize that their classes ought to come first. Also make sure that they know how to optimize their activities in relation to their resume upon graduation – many jobs nowadays are looking for more than a high GPA. They will look for membership to professional organizations, as well as internships and more. Most college students have access to advisors if they wish to discuss the best path toward employability in their future field.
Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is also here for all your teenager’s insurance needs as they go to college. This may include updating your home insurance to cover their belongings, or getting them their own renter’s insurance. Also talk to your agent about the best option for your student’s car insurance, as well as if they are eligible for any ‘good student’ discounts.