If you are like most parents with children in high school, you are so busy trying to stay ahead of expenses that you do not have time to think about the opportunities your child's high school offers to educate them about money.
Financial literacy is one of life's primary skills needed for success. Yet, according to the 2017 National Report Card on State Efforts to Improve Financial Literacy in High Schools, issued by the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy, only five states received an "A" for their efforts to teach financial education, and an astonishing 27 states received grades "C", "D" or "F".
For most, then, that leaves the responsibility for educating high school students squarely on the shoulders of today's parents. Unfortunately, some parents may even feel they are entirely unqualified to teach on the subject, due to their money struggles to take on the mantle.
Making Financial Decisions
One way you can help educate your child about money and finance is to allow your child to make a few financial decisions on his or her own. While you are not handing over the keys to the bank account, you can set your teen up with an account of his or her own while you hold the reins, set spending limits, and monitor transactions.
That ends the constant run to mom or dad asking for funds and forces teens to make financial decisions based on the money that is available to them.
While some parents would prefer their teens not hold jobs while going to school so they can focus on making better grades or participating in extracurricular school activities, they do need opportunities to make money on their own to learn about budgeting and finances.
Aside from part-time jobs where they earn regular wages, other opportunities exist for teens to make money that will not interfere with their education such as:
- Dog walking
- Household chores
- Neighborhood services
There are all kinds of opportunities available to teens, including some part-time jobs that only require a few hours of their time each week.
Sit down and work with your teen to create a budget for their essentials. This includes the things that are necessary for them to get through their week that aren’t food, such as:
- Hair products
- Spending money
Give your high school student a strict budget to work with every month with the reminder that he or she needs to plan for larger purchases and may need to sacrifice smaller purchases to make room for more significant expenses along the way.
It also allows them to see the value in shopping sales, comparing prices, using coupons, and ditching name brands in favor of more cost-effective products in a pinch.
Setting high school students up with student accounts from their parents' banks allows parents to monitor their activity with a safety net in place. That prevents them from getting in over their heads while giving them an invaluable education in how to operate their bank cards, balance their accounts, and manage their money. Keep these things in mind, though to make it a positive learning experience.
- Give them debit card access only. No checks.
- Set strict spending limits. This way, your teen is not able to spend him or herself into a hole.
- Monitor account activity closely. When teachable moments arrive, teach!
- Make a point of sitting down once a month and reconciling outstanding expenses and spending choices with your teen.
Working with your teen to make sure he or she understands banking basics now will help prevent big banking mistakes as adults.
Send Your High Schooler into the World with Solid Financial Skills
Please do the following to help your teen develop financial literacy before they need to put it into action on their own.
- Let them make small financial decisions.
- Teach them the basics of budgeting, buying, and saving.
- Provide them with opportunities to make money of their own and spend it.
- Teach them banking basics with their own, supervised, banking accounts and debit card access.
The thought of sending your high school student out into the world is thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Follow these critical steps so you can be confident you're sending your teens into the world with the education they need about money.