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Preparing Your Children for Financial Independence

Written by Deb Hornell on April 22, 2013 in Family Money  |   8 comments

As parents, we want our children to be successful and happy in life, but teaching them financial independence often gets put on the back burner. Many parents wait until their children are graduating from high school or leaving for college to begin talking about money…

money management budgetAs parents, we want our children to be successful and happy in life, but teaching them financial independence often gets put on the back burner. Many parents wait until their children are graduating from high school or leaving for college to begin talking about money management.

Here are three tips to help your children forge a path to financial independence:

1. Talk about financial goals with your children and then help create a plan to set them up for success.

  • Define what financial independence means for you and your children. Do you want them to manage their own cash flow? Appreciate and know how to earn money? Set a budget to live within their means?
  • Talk with your children about what is important to them in life. What kind of lifestyle do they want? Do they want a family? What level of education do they want to achieve?
  • Talk to your children about how financial decisions might affect their lifestyle goals. How will they use credit? What level of debt is acceptable? How much should they be saving?

2. Utilize money management tools to gradually increase your child’s level of responsibility and independence.

  • An allowance can introduce elementary school children to the concept of managing money. If you wish, the allowance can be linked to completing basic family chores.
  • Using a monthly budget can help middle or high school children learn to live within their means while teaching them independence and accountability for their own cash flow. Help them estimate their projected monthly expenses (lunch, fun money, clothing, and so on) and then compare their actual expenses each month. Talk with your children about why they may have gone over budget and help them find ways to cut costs.
  • A checking account with a debit card is a valuable tool for teenagers to begin managing money through a bank. Your children can only spend existing funds, and they have the flexibility of online banking and debit card usage.
  • Encourage part-time jobs, such as cutting grass, shoveling snow, babysitting, or working for a business. Your children will learn to appreciate the power of earning a dollar. My parents taught me this valuable lesson during middle school when they expected me to babysit for clothing money. Their confidence in me was empowering and made me appreciate my new purchases even more.
  • Credit cards should only be introduced when your children have a proven ability to manage a debit card. My children were allowed to open a credit card account when they were sophomores in college so they could begin establishing a credit history. Our rule was (and still is) that you only charge items on your credit card if you are able to pay off the balance each month.

3. Be a role model for fiscal responsibility. Children watch to see how adults earn, save, and spend money. Make sure your example is one that sets the tone for their future success.

Deb Hornell has been helping individuals and companies grow and succeed for more than 25 years. She is a visionary whose personal brand of “cultivating environments for growth” extends into her consulting practice, her family and friendships, and her newly released book: Good Things for a Full Life. Her expertise in group facilitation, leadership development, change management, and strategic planning makes Deb the go-to consultant for critical organizational development initiatives. She is known for designing and facilitating practical solutions to complex business challenges while honoring and engaging people in the process. Follow Deb on Twitter and Facebook.

8 comments

  1. Mohammed Rahman says:

    Good Topic..How about introducting Kids the concept of Investing Money and to see how it performs in the financial market ?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Mohammed, that is a great idea. It’s important to make sure our children are prepared for their financial future. Thanks for posting.

  2. Brenda says:

    I think the credit companies should get together and teach kids the importance of credit and what it is and how to get good credit and what happends when late payments or other detriments to a credit score… even a beauro authorized YOUTUBE video or something. Many parents do not know how to do #3 above. They live pay check to paycheck, so kids only know how to live paycheck to paycheck.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Brenda, that’s a good point. Hopefully, by using the tips above, children can learn financial discipline. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Darian says:

    How about introducing young people to the concept of starting a business to demonstrate that income is not necessarily tied to effort expended? Being trapped into “wage and salary for work expended” thinking is a problem which prevents many from becoming truly financially independent.

  4. Laura says:

    We all need to teach our children (& grandchildren) the joy of saving for high priced items instead of always using a credit card. It has always made an item more special if I have to save the money for it. Also, while saving for an item I sometimes find the same item on sale or for a lower price somewhere else. It pays to be a cautious shopper. It is essential to financial security to live within my means and not what others can afford.

  5. Reggie says:

    How about teaching kids the value of money before they start their own families? In fact, I say we scrap the entire “let’s start a family” plan all together because kids cost a lot of money. Unless you’re already finacially free, I honestly don’t think having kids is a good idea because they are an expensive investment. Many parents say children are priceless, without admitting that they do come with a heavy price. If you truly love children, you wouldn’t dare bring one into an impoverished situation where you are forced to work more and spend less time with them. It’s not worth it in the long run. Peace.


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