My oldest daughter had many milestones this year. She got her drivers license, got her first car, got her first job and turned 18 just this week. Besides being a festive day full of the usual celebrations, we went to get her first bank account. Out of all the huge life-changing events she went through this year, I think the bank account had to be the one that gave me the most pause. I was tormented by the thought that she may be destined for the same financial crisis I put myself through when starting out. Of course, back then I had no clue about how to handle my money or to be a good steward of it. I was guilty of countless transgressions against my financial health. By the time I was 25, I was a complete financial disaster, with no apparent means by which to dig myself out.
My daughter wouldn’t remember those days as she was very young, but as a single mom of two young children in financial ruin, I know it directly affected the lifestyle in which she was raised. Because of my ineptness and indebtedness, I found everything from feeding them to putting gas in the car a miraculous feat. Eventually things got better and I was able to learn how to put money in its place and do the right thing with it. So I have to feel good that I have set some proper examples of money management skills for my daughter to learn from.
But there are still things I wish I would have shared with her about money before now. Things I know if she takes to heart and starts applying them immediately will set her up for a lifetime of financial wellness. For me, this one falls right in there with emotional and physical wellness as being areas I have always been committed to nurturing in my children. These are the things she may already know, but areas of financial wellness I want to make sure she understands:
- It’s not about whether you have a lot of money or a little, it is about living within your financial means.
- Treat your money as you want it to treat you – be good to it and take care of it and it will reciprocate. Treat it badly and it will do the same.
- Never buy something you don’t have the means of paying for right now. This applies to various areas from lump-sum purchases to purchases for which you need to finance heavily.
- No matter how much you make, put away a percentage of it for an emergency.
- Always be aware of where you money is going.
- Always meet your financial obligations no matter how tough it might be.
- Forget those trendy shoes, put it in savings!
- When you have a spending urge, take a look at your savings account balance instead. That is a huge rush in and of itself.
- Develop a budget and financial plan no matter what your income.
- Treat yourself within reason every once in awhile. Depriving yourself is not healthy.
- Give even when it hurts. It might hurt a little, but it will also feel great. Don’t go beyond your means though.
These are just a few of the areas I have outlined to go over with my daughter this weekend. She is a sweet, open-minded and smart young lady so I am confident she will absorb my advice and be appreciative of this heap of hard-earned advice.
What do you share with your teens about money? What are some areas you are concerned with? I would love to hear from you.