Prepare your high school graduate for the financial changes college and the workforce bring

Feb 04, 2020

We’re halfway through the school year and before we know it the school doors will be locked, the caps thrown, and eager graduates will embark on new journeys into college or the workforce.

While classes and dorm rooms and new jobs are on the forefront of high school seniors’ minds, it’s important that they are prepared for how to manage their finances in this next chapter. The most effective way to instill positive financial habits in young adults is to empower them early on by providing the education and tools they need to take control on their own.

Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Open a savings and checking account – Visit your community bank (or find one near you) and open a savings and checking account in your child’s name if they don’t already have one. You can also give yourself permission on the account if you’ll be involved with the finances.

While credit cards provide benefits, a debit card is very effective in teaching a new graduate money responsibility and in providing a convenient way to pay for products and services without interest. Don’t forget to inquire about online banking or mobile banking offerings which can help even further when it comes to tracking expenditures and monitoring balances.

2. Discuss privacy protection – Sharing is a practice you’ve likely encouraged your child to do from the start, but when it comes to finances, you’ll want to discuss the importance of privacy. Make sure they understand that a personal identification number (PIN) for debit cards should be safeguarded and kept private.

If using online banking or a mobile app, encourage them to create a secure password, change it often, and never share it with others. Additional tip: Avoid accessing an online banking account on a shared or public computer.

3. Establish an Emergency Fund – Even if your child is not yet financially independent, an emergency fund is a valuable resource to have. If you’re able to get them started, consider adding $1,000 to a savings account and then build from there. Challenge them to contribute a small amount from every paycheck, birthday check, etc. to this account until it reflects between three to six months of expenses.

4. Approach with Caution – If high school graduation marks the start of your child going out on their own for the first time, ensure they understand that credit card offers will be aplenty.

Whether offered to them at the mall or on their dorm room bulletin board, they will frequently be bombarded with “exclusive” offers. Teach them to approach theses offers with caution, understanding that – while credit cards can be beneficial – they can lead to debt if not properly handled.

If opening a card is on the list of to-dos, ensure they compare rates and annual fees while also looking into the associated benefits and responsibilities. If you’d like to find the right card for your child, check with your community bank on their offerings and benefits.