Parents, Teens and Money: Where Should You Begin?
"How do I pick the right credit card?"
"What happens if I don't pay my bills on time?"
"Why do I always run out of money before the end of the month?"
These are only a few of the many financial questions your teenagers probably have. And as they prepare for college or get ready to enter the workforce, that number is bound to increase.
As parents, you may think your teens don't want to discuss these matters with you, but numerous surveys of college students show that the vast majority of them learned about personal finance from their parents; and even more said they wish they'd had more parental guidance.
If you're worried that you might not have all the right answers, don't be. There are resources available that can coach you on how to open and steer a financial dialogue with your teens. The most important thing is to start the conversation now, before they set out on their own and run the risk of making costly mistakes.
Here is a Top 10 list of questions to get your discussions rolling:
- Do you know how to make and stick to a budget?
- What are the main differences between credit and debit cards?
- Do you know what a FICO score is – how do you get one and keep it healthy?
- Which important questions should you ask before signing up for a credit card?
- What are interest rates, fees and penalties and how do they impact the cost of using credit cards?
- Where do you find information about student loans and grants?
- What other types of loans are there and how do you compare terms to get the best deal?
- What is a contract and which questions should you ask before signing on the dotted line?
- How do you spot – and prevent – identity theft?
- Where should you turn if your finances get out of control?
Remember, these conversations can take place over a long period of time so you don't need to feel overwhelmed by the number of topics to cover. Not sure where to begin? Start by sharing your own stories and lessons learned.
For a hand's-on, detailed guide to discussing personal finance issues with your young adult, including activities you can do together and links to further resources, check out "Parents, Teens and Money: A Clear & Simple Guide to Discussing Financial Responsibility" at www.chaseclearandsimple.com/Students_Guide.
Talk to your teens: You'll be surprised by how much they already know – and how much they want to learn.
Reprinted with the permission of College Parents of America. © 2007 CollegeParents.org
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