Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thirty Days of Smart Money Choices -- Start young!!

According to a figure cited on, people in the 18 to 24 age range spend nearly 30% of their monthly income on debt repayment. While I'm not sure when this statistic was gathered except that it was 2009 or after. However, noted that this was double the percentage spent in 1992.

Devoting 30 per cent of your pay check to debt retirement is a burden at any time of life. For young singles and young couples just staring out in life, this is even more overwhelming. Young people generally just also acquire the basic needs in life -- a place to live, furniture, cars, etc. -- and for many there are also the costs of staring a family. They may still be finishing their education, particularly if they are going on to graduate school. There is also the risk that a young couple might delay having children until debt is paid, thus missing prime years for having and enjoying children.

A phenomenon sometimes mentioned with regard to this generation of 18 to 35 year olds is that many are delaying the usual hallmarks of maturity and independence. The title of the movie "Failure to Launch" takes its name from this syndrome. I'm sure that there are many cultural factors at work here, but, perhaps, the trend toward more and more debt is one of them.

How can parents of young children start now to help them avoid starting their adult life in debt?

1) Speak positively to your child about your child's future. Celebrate milestones of maturity from taking first steps to graduating from college to marriage and beyond.
2) Train young children how to handle money. Continue training through high school. Make a list of money skills that your children will need to acquire, and teach them as is age appropriate. Does your high school child know how to stick to a budget? Does he know what it takes to balance an account? To use a credit card responsibly? That doesn't mean that your child needs to have the responsibility for money management or a credit card at this age, but they should be preparing to step into these roles.
3) Teach your children the difference between needs and wants and how to reasonably enjoy both.
4) Help your child learn job skills that he or she can use while pursuing higher education.
5) Help your child assess his strengths and interests. Help him develop a vision for what he or she wants to do in life. Help him or her map out an educational strategy that will help him or her fulfil his or her goals.
6) Help your child not to fear failure. Teach your child how to find that balance between actively striving for goals, yet without perfectionism, insecurity, or a feeling that his or her total worth in life depends on reaching those goals.
7) Teach your child that his or her worth in life does not come through accumulating things.


1 comment:

JoannaTopazT said...

Thank you for these thoughts. My daughter turns 5 on Monday and has recently become very interested in money (mostly due to garage sale season and the toy tables). We'll be starting her allowance next week, making "share" and save" jars, and using some more of these ideas in the future.