Does Your Teen Need a Financial Reality Check?
Is your teenager in need of a financial education? If your child is like most American teens, the answer is yes. Although most teens believe they will achieve financial success, they have no concept of how to reach such goals.
Optimistic but Lofty Expectations
Many teens look forward to attaining financial independence. The vast majority predicts they will be free of any parental monetary support by age 25 and expects to earn six-figure salaries.
Although there is nothing wrong with an optimistic outlook toward their financial future, it is extremely important that today's youth are prepared for the complex financial decisions that will affect them for a lifetime.
What They Don't Know
Young adults are among the fastest growing groups filing for bankruptcy today. This is largely due to overwhelming debt from credit cards, student loans and extravagant purchases.
According to a survey, less than half of teenagers know how to budget their money. Alarmingly, only 34% know how to pay bills. A mere 26 % understand how credit cards and interest work and even fewer know how taxes function or what a 401(k) plan is.
The lack of understanding regarding these basic building blocks of personal finance underscores the need to educate teens.
Looking to Their Parents
The good news is that teenagers want to learn more and be involved in their personal finances.
It is crucial that parents play an active role in ensuring their children's financial maturity. Help your teens understand investing, saving, and planning for their future now so they can avoid the consequences of financial ignorance later in life. Start educating your teen now.
Lead by example. Although it doesn't always seem like it, children really pay attention to what you say and do. Be responsible with your money, and they will likely follow your lead.
Encourage attainable goals. Take note of the small, everyday accomplishments that help shape your teen's reality. Reward your teen for paying debts on time, saving money for important purchases and balancing his or her checkbook. These simple accomplishments reinforce maintaining good credit and building savings.
Be honest. Just because you are a role model does not mean you have to seem infallible. Share your financial mistakes and consequences with your children. Being honest with your teen can build a level of respect for you as a parent – and lend credibility to the lesson you are sharing.
* Source: Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. survey, March 27, 2007.