I recently heard an interesting story from a business peer whose daughter started college in the fall. This mom was telling me that she received a call from her daughter thanking her for teaching her how to cook, clean and do her own laundry. She was pleasantly surprised that her daughter had thanked her for teaching these skills and she asked her daughter what had prompted the call. Her daughter relayed to her that she had been horrified when she discovered that her roommate didn’t know how to do any of those things.
If your kids were to go away to college today, what kind of phone call do you think you’d receive?
What skill sets do you want them to leave home with that will give you the peace of mind of knowing they can take care of themselves? With the right preparation, we can get our kids on the right track, so that they can each acquire these important life skills.
You may be thinking, what ‘life skills’ should I be teaching my kids?
We’ve put together a four part series that will highlight different types of life skills all of our kids desperately need to learn before heading off into the world. Ultimately, as a parent, you get to choose which life skills are important to you and your family, but this series will give you a thorough overview of the areas I focus my time on with my kids.
First Up in our Life Skills Series – Let’s Chat Personal Finance Management.
Personal finance is one of the most essential life skills, that we don’t tend to teach the next generation. I guess we just assume they will just figure it out like we did.
However, I think many of us (I’m raising my hand right now, too) took a bit longer to figure it out than necessary. I don’t know about you, but if I can help my kids now to avoid the mistakes I made later on down the line – I’m all for it.
Because of that, I’ve already started on many of these lessons with my own kids.
HOW TO BUDGET
The ability to budget and be financially responsible is absolutely vital to your life skillset. It’s a skill we can learn from a very young age and one we should build upon throughout our lives. Setting financial goals, taking care of your money and calculating expenses are an important part of budgeting.
HOW TO AVOID/GET OUT OF DEBT
Learning to live within your means is definitely a learned skill. Learning to slay your debt is about keeping your spending in check and managing a plan to pay off your debt quickly and efficiently. We refer to it as a war, slaying, tackling and fighting because it’s truly challenging. But, the amazing thing is, with a little practice, avoiding debt is a war that we can teach our kids to win.
HOW TO MAKE A MAJOR PURCHASE
Maybe your kids are about to buy their first car—or maybe just their first new jacket with their allowance money. Whatever it is, they should understand how to compare prices, how to do research via Consumer Reports, and how to make a smart, well informed, purchase.
BALANCING YOUR BANK ACCOUNT
How many of us just use our debit card without writing things down? How many of us pay bills online or have them set up to automatically be debited from our accounts and then sort of forget until they show up on our bank statement?
Being able to record your expenses is a skill that keeps us in touch with your finances. It’s important that our children understand what it truly means to use their debit cards and actually physically subtract the money from their bank accounts. It keeps them immediately accountable for what they’re spending. Have them try committing to write things down for a month and see if you notice a difference in their spending patterns.
HOW TO USE COUPONS
Learning how to use coupons can actually be fun for kids! My children love it and it’s really easy to get started. With a little organization and some practice, you’ll become a couponing queen (and you’ll rarely catch yourself or your kids paying full price for ANYTHING).
Once they have saved a lot of money or have their debt paid off, understanding how to invest their money wisely is also a huge learning experience. Even people who have money to spare have trouble with investments and making that money grow.
Really, there are very few ways to “get rich quick” aside from winning the lottery, and most investing and money management attempts have to be carefully vetted and researched. Show your kids how to research various areas of investment such as the stock market, real estate, or startups before they decide to let go of their hard-earned money.
Bargaining, bartering, negotiating—it’s a learned life skill many of us shy away from. Learning how to trade, make an offer, and be comfortable with asking for a better deal can save you money. It can also be a valuable skill when you’re faced with a tricky money situation (like asking for a raise) where negotiating is essential and expected.
Teach your kids not to shy away from making a bargain. Challenge them to practice until they feel comfortable. That might mean saying, “Is that the best you can offer?” over their next big purchase or you could have them set up a swap with a friend to practice negotiating. This will help them learn to stop cringing whenever a negotiating opportunity presents itself.
Our kids need life skills now more than ever. Period. End of story. As their parents, it is our job to teach them. But, when we don’t know where to start – it can be overwhelming. My advice, start with personal finance management. Come back next week for part two where we’ll be chatting about cooking and cleaning.