The goal for most parents is to raise children who grow up to be successful and independent. And young people who recently finished college are especially eager for independence. However, rent, student loan repayments and other financial obligations can make it a struggle to get started in life.
Some parents may consider offering their children financial help to get them started. Others worry that offering their adult children money might delay their sense of self-reliance. Here are some tips to consider as you determine the best way to help your child prepare for a financially independent life.
Give the Gift of Knowledge
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to finances. Educating your child on the importance of budgeting and spending will help them learn to manage their financial life.
A budget is like a spending plan — a way to help your child keep track of income and expenses. And a key aspect of a spending plan is setting priorities. That means separating budget items into essential and nonessential expenses.
Essential expenses are expenses that are non-negotiable. They’re the primary category in a budget because they must be paid. They include things like mortgage or rent, utilities, food, insurance and student loan payments.
Nonessential — or discretionary — expenses are things that are nice to have but are not necessary. They include items such as premium cable service, dining out and entertainment. These are expenses that can be eliminated in the event that more money is needed to cover essential expenses.
Check out our Financial Goals Workbook for tools you can provide your child to help them manage their spending and build a budget.
Emphasize the Importance of Maintaining Good Credit
Your college graduate may be carrying some student debt. Whether that debt is large or small, they should be aware of the importance of making loan payments on time. Frequent late payments could have a negative impact on your child’s credit rating. This could lead to higher interest rates on credit cards and auto and home loans. It is important to emphasize that late payments can be costly over the long term.
Offering Financial Support
If you decide to offer your graduate some financial support, set limits and decide how long you will offer that support. For example, you might consider keeping your child on your health insurance until age 26. This may make sense if debt and essential expenses are making it hard for them to afford health care premiums.
Or, if your child has to move to an expensive city for a job, you could help with moving expenses or a security deposit on an apartment. Even paying part of your child’s rent for a short time could help them become more financially independent down the road.
There is certainly an emotional aspect to financially supporting your kids – even after they are no longer “kids”. But while giving your children financial help in the short term, it might actually be a detriment over the long term. Keep in mind your end-goal, to help them become financially independent, and make a plan to help them get there.