As parents, one of the most important things that we can teach our children is how to be responsible adults, and that means not just giving them everything they want, but teaching them how to get those things themselves. Too many parents think that by giving kids everything they want, they’ll somehow grow up “better” than they themselves did, but the simple truth is, if you don’t teach your children how to be adults, they may never get there.
Now while there are a lot of lessons that go into raising responsible adults, today we’re going to talk about raising financially responsible adults… you know, adults who budget wisely, live within their means, and who are financially independent.
Perhaps you’ve already started your children on the path to good financial habits with an allowance or even a savings account of his or her own, maybe you’ve even gone so far as to give them a debit card with a preset spending limit. If so, that’s fantastic, but there are a few other things that young adults need to learn before they’re ready to be on their own financially.
One of the most important things is managing a checking account – you would be amazed at the number of young people who do not understand how to actually balance a checking or savings account, write a check, or make a simple deposit. (And yet, they all know how to spend money online, right?)
So when is a good age to start? Honestly, as soon as your child understands money, it’s time to start teaching them how money is earned, how to save, and how to spend wisely.
Lots of banks offer options for young adults, teenagers, and even younger children to open both checking and savings accounts, so take the time to shop around with your child – teach him/her about the various benefits of each type of account, explain interest rates, fees, and so forth. Use it as a teaching experience and allow him/her to help make the decision and actually open the account.
Then, as odd as it may seem, the best way to start is with a good old fashioned check register, checkbook, and debit card. Write down every transaction, teach him/her how to write a check, how to use a debit card, and how to record everything in the check register, then balance it to the online banking account.
Not only does this teach him or her how to track the balance, but getting them in the habit of accounting for every expense (every time that debit card is swiped) may help them to really think about how their money is spent, and how they may not want to spend it in future transactions.
Remember, raising financially responsible adults is a long process… it won’t always be easy, and you’ll be legally responsible for any accounts that your children have, but in the end, it will be worth the patience and effort that you put into it.