One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is comfort and common sense when handling money. However, many Baby Boomer parents confess that they either don’t know how to talk to their kids about money, have failed to set appropriate limits with their children or don’t feel confident in their own financial management skills to share insights. As a result, 1 in 3 young adults are still living at home.
If you’ve found yourself still rooming with your millennial child, follow these handful of simple tips to help get your financially-dependent child off your payroll.
Talk about spending: A frank discussion about budgeting and spending habits can go a long way. Sit down and brainstorm cost-cutting ideas and techniques with your child. Moreover, examine different cell phone plans and television viewing options together to help teach your child how to start thinking like a smart consumer. In the long run, this will help them save a lot of money. Recommend tools and apps such as Quicken or Mint that show spending and saving in easy to understand graphs and charts, which sometimes make more of an impact than a pep talk.
Address employee benefits: Review your child’s employee benefits together to understand what options are available. This exercise alone may spur awareness of the myriad of areas that a financially responsible adult manages, including retirement savings, life insurance, disability insurance and health insurance. Introducing the “pay yourself first” concept will encourage your child to enroll in a 401(k) plan, save regularly to establish an emergency fund, and establish a life-long habit of saving before spending.
Set examples for work-life balance: Make clear that having fun and being healthy doesn’t have to come with a big price tag. Encourage your child to learn how to cook if they eat out a lot. Taking a cooking class together might spur an interest in eating and entertaining at home. And instead of paying for a costly gym membership, suggest a walk in a park or joining a “fun run” for charity as healthy, enjoyable and cost-effective activities.
Help them avoid (or manage) debt. Managing student loan and credit card debt is a frequent challenge for many. Reviewing statements, interest rates, and terms together is a good starting point for educating your child on debt management and the consequences of not paying it off on time. Establishing a plan for paying down higher interest debt first and celebrating successes along the way can help engage your child in the process of becoming more prudent with their debt. Using old-fashioned cash, or a debit card that withdraws a payment directly from a checking account, will teach your child to monitor their cash flow and stop spending when funds are low. If using a credit card, set up text alerts when credit cards are swiped to give a reminder that, while not immediate, money is still being spent.
Set a timeline: Because many adult children are still living at home, setting a timeline for moving out and establishing actionable steps to get there can help transition your adult child to living on their own. Creating budgets, discussing spending and exploring additional or alternative jobs are all part of the process.
Since our society doesn’t do a great job of teaching financial literacy and skills, oftentimes it’s up to us to teach our children these valuable lessons. Learning to be financially responsible is a rewarding feeling with tangible benefits. To help your child, consider setting up a session with a CERTIFED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to help them begin the journey to financial independence.