June is the time of year when school wraps up, with parents celebrating and guiding their kids to the next chapter in their exciting lives. I was reminded of it this week when looking at my Instagram. I am seeing friends post graduating pics, whether it’s moving on to middle school or moving on to college.
Inside I wonder if each child is obtaining some degree of financial education – primarily from their families. And furthermore I am curious to know is that enough? For the parents reading this, do you feel you’ve helped prepare your kids for the world of debt and credit cards? Being a wise consumer? Living within means? Taxes? Investing or at least having a bank account? I would hope so.
Unfortunately, it’s no secret that our school systems have room for improvement. Studies of our high schools and financial literacy education tell a disappointing story. In the U.S. only five states earned an A, while 27 states earned either C, D, or F. For the full report, click here.
But parents can and should make a difference. Do they? Not always. Studies show that most parents are reluctant to discuss financial matters with children – and only 23% “regularly” talk to them about financial matters.
So on that note, I wanted to provide a six-pack of ideas to consider getting for the recent grad if you want to have a positive impact on their financial future.
Books. Books are traditional but also a great gift. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi was written for people in their twenties, and this book will help any graduate set up an automated financial plan to set them on the course to success. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin let grads know early on the opportunity cost of being frivolous with money to put them on the path towards financial independence. If not a hard-copy book, perhaps suggest a reading list and a provide credit to their Nook account.
Financial apps. There are many options out there to help people with a range of financial topics. YNAB (You need a budget) is very popular and has a monthly cost, but the company claims new users will save hundreds in their first month. MINT.com is a popular app (it’s free, so users have to deal with ads) but most people find it helpful. Credit Karma would be a good choice to help people understand and track their credit. Also newcomer Personal Capital is a helpful budgeting tool for just about anyone, and it also links to your banking and investment accounts.
Financial podcasts. There is no shortage of personal finance podcasts out there, and no shortage of lists of everyone’s favorite. I have posted some of mine previously, but here’s a site which mentions some of the bigger and better ones (and some I recommend are on this list as well). Encourage your graduate to start listening to them – they are free, abundant, and can teach so much. I continue to listen to them daily and continue to enhance my knowledge in this space.
Have them join you in a financial planning meeting. If you want your kids to be part of the experience, I would suggest bringing them to your financial planning meetings. This would help in many ways, not only would your kids pick up on the industry jargon but also begin to understand how they too will need to be responsible with money. Plus your kids may get an understanding of what they will inherit one day (so they aren’t caught off-guard).
Help them open an IRA. If your kids have any type of job or income, they are eligible to open and fund an IRA. Guide them through the process – and taking it a step further – offer to match a portion of what they contribute. It would be great incentive on top of the early introduction into the investing world!
Share your lessons. If you are the type of relative who is saying “I was never good with money – so how do I teach these kids to be good about money?”, try this. Lead by example. Ideally you no longer spend frivolously and rack up massive amounts of debt – so tell the kids why. After all, they will see how you are with money and you don’t want your “financial advice” to fall on deaf ears. Even if you continue to make money mistakes, have open and honest conversations about those mistakes. Kids are impressionable and will hear about your missteps as well as learn how you are working to correct them. That, in itself, could be priceless!