There are a lot of families out there brimming with pride as they plan and host parties for their sons’ and daughters’ high school graduations. It’s a time for celebration, a time when friends and family bring Hallmark cards filled with cash.
In a few weeks everything will change as they leave the comforts of home and begin the next chapter of their lives. For many, it will be the first time they’re away from home for an extended period of time. Mom and dad may have planted the roots, but it’s time for them to watch from the sidelines and observe how their young ones fare.
Of special interest will be what their kids do with the graduation money. Being on their own means making daily financial decisions. And in all likelihood they’re going to make a poor decision somewhere along the way. That’s just part of growing up.
It could be something as simple as incurring a late fee because of an overdue or missed payment. Or maybe they decide to buy a new outfit they didn’t really need.
The important thing is the ability to learn from lapses in judgment.
If a young person doesn’t learn from minor financial mistakes, I’m a firm believer they are more apt to have major financial issues later in life.
After the graduation party and before the good-bye hugs in the fall, parents have one last teaching opportunity regarding money management. It doesn’t matter if they’re leaving for college, trade school or the military. It doesn’t matter if they’re getting a job and staying at home. Young adults absolutely must have basic banking and money management skills.
Talk to them about that graduation money. Make certain they know and are comfortable with the mechanics of banking. In this day and age, the only mechanics many of them know for withdrawing money is an ATM machine.
But it’s important that your young ones know how to make a deposit. Yes, a check can be scanned and deposited, but substantial amounts of cash gifts should be put into a bank, not a desk drawer. Most important of all is accounting, knowing how to keep the books.
It may be an old fashion check ledger or a program on their phone or laptop, but it’s essential they know how to keep track and monitor money coming in and money going out. If they have a good grasp of the mechanics of banking, establish good financial habits and maintain a solid financial awareness, I’m confident the next phase of life will go well, at least financially.
Finally, there needs to be a frank financial discussion so both parents and children are on the same page regarding who is going to be responsible for what bills. It may be the 11th hour, but I’ve encountered far too many households whose kids had very different expectations of what their financial responsibilities were going to be.
Clear channels of communication, astute financial awareness and financial discipline are all key ingredients for a successful financial future.
High school graduation is an exciting, yet pivotal time in a young person’s life. As parents, you need to do your best to make certain your kids are prepared to handle their day-to-day saving, spending and banking activities.