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3 Financial lessons you should teach your high school student

Soon enough, your high school student will embark on a higher-education adventure that involves managing her own finances.


tYour child may feel intimidated or overwhelmed by this approaching future, or she may have little idea about what she will soon face. In order to prepare your young adult for financial responsibility, consider working through the below activities with her.

1. A grocery store budget

t Your college-bound student will likely have a limited income and many new expenses to accommodate. One way to introduce her to budgeting is a simple trip to the grocery store. As you walk the aisles, explain how much money your family has budgeted for groceries, and ask your child to assist you in purchasing food. Discuss how you must buy staples (e.g. milk, bread), but if you have additional funds, you might choose several non-essential items as well (e.g. ice cream). Set limits and emphasize advanced planning. Talk about generic brands vs. name brands, quality vs. cost, etc. Once this lesson is complete, you can expand its basic principles to clothes, entertainment, a full household budget and school-specific shopping.

2. A constant allowance

t Giving your student an allowance models an income she might earn from a job, and it enables her to freely make purchasing decisions. The main benefit is that she is allowed to learn from her spending successes and mistakes in a low-stakes environment before venturing into the “real world.” With a steady allowance, your child will be able to predict how much she will earn over a certain period so she can plan her spending. She will have to make decisions about saving vs. spending, and she will have to decide if an item is worth her hard-earned cash. She will also realize that if money goes missing, it is truly gone.

3. Household finances

t Sit down with your student and review your family’s budget; doing so can demonstrate to her how much money it takes to run a household. Many parents are understandably private about their finances, but your student is in high school now and she is about to move out on her own. Many children leave without understanding the value of a dollar or realizing that 80 percent of their paycheck cannot go toward video games. Your student is likely familiar with household expenditures only when the purchase takes place in front of her, at the grocery store, the mall or perhaps the veterinarian’s office. But there are several costs that your young adult may not give much thought to: automobile insurance, the price of gas, loan repayments and so on. You must show her what adult spending is truly like to prevent her from making serious mistakes based on misconceptions or incorrect assumptions. This is also a wonderful time to candidly share what you wish you had done better or understood when you were first starting out with your finances.

t For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit

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