If you are like me, you want your children to grow up to be financially independent adults so that when they graduate from college, you also graduate from providing their support.
As a successful financial executive, investment banker and entrepreneur, I had a lot of experience to draw upon for training my son (who did become financially independent after he graduated from college). Here are some tips that you can use with your children:
Don’t buy them everything they want
For most parents, this goes without saying, but many parents, regardless of income, do their children great harm by providing them with whatever they want. Such kids never learn the value of money.
Provide a modest allowance
By giving your kids a modest allowance, you help them learn to use and manage their own money.
Open a savings account around age 10
Somewhere between age 8 and age 12, a child should be ready to open a savings account at a local bank or credit union. Understanding how banks work and how interest is earned is a valuable lesson for young children.
Open a checking account around age 14
Between ages 12 and 16, your children should be ready to open a checking account (with you as a cosigner). This requires greater responsibility and will help your kids learn to be financially responsible.
Get them credit cards at age 17
Once your child has demonstrated effective use of a checking account — and not before — she may be ready for a credit card. The point in helping your kids to get a credit card is not to teach them to borrow money, but to teach them to use credit wisely, paying off the balance every month. You want them to learn discipline while you are there to supervise, coach and train. Never help a teen who hasn’t demonstrated the maturity to handle credit wisely to get a credit card.
Make them work
It may sound cruel to some parents, but there is little you can do as a parent that is of greater value than to encourage your children to work. When they are very young, this means working at home, doing chores and learning to be responsible for their stuff. As they get older, teenagers should be encouraged to work part-time at a real job so they learn what it means to really work.
Force them to save
When your kids want to buy something big — relative to your budget and theirs — like an Xbox or Wii, make them save up for it. One of the most powerful lessons you can give them is to teach them to delay gratification, to work and save up for something they want.
It is inappropriate to share all of the family’s financial details with the kids, but you may want to have family involvement in managing specific financial goals like saving for a vacation or managing the grocery budget.
Save for college
You’ll want to be contributing money each month to a college savings fund for each of your children. You should have your children track the savings with you. Encourage them to save for college from their allowance and other income.
Focus on scholarships
Scholarships represent a key to a quality education; many, though not all, are merit based. Encourage your students to work hard in school so that they can earn scholarships to help pay for college.
As you follow these steps, you can help your children grow into financially independent adults who will thrive in life.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.