Looking back on that Freshman year in College of our two daughters, there are 2 things that I’m really glad we did:
1st – Get them a Personal Checking Account when they turn 16 and are still in High School:
College kids already have so much to transition into besides having to learn a crash course in money management. I witnessed this first hand with a sister struggling to learn how to budget her money in the first few months of college and the un-needed and added stress it brought on her and my parents. Also, I offer this as food for thought: Imagine the stress if you never knew what your paycheck was going or wasn’t going to be each month…. the added stress on what decision to make or not make not knowing what would or would not come in — Add onto that —- Stressful last-minute phone/email/text conversations asking for money — and you as a parent having to make an unexpected, surprise quick run to the bank or computer transfer…
We sat down with each of our daughters when they turned 16 during their Sophomore year of high school. We had a calm discussion about what they felt they spent on average throughout an entire year (holidays included) going out with friends to movies, gas, clothes, you name it. We’d come up with an amount and then we placed a set amount in their checking account on auto-pay on the 1st and 15th of each month. The amount was not generous, but it was adequate. During this time, we taught them how a debit card works, how to balance a checkbook, etc.
Our oldest daughter (now age 29) ended up buying a pair of Doc Martens with her very first allowance when she was 16 and found herself asking me for money to go to the movies the following weekend. Saying sorry and not giving her more money was hard to do, but it was important that she learn. Needless to say, she never did that again.
As time and grades would allow, the girls both started working a fun job that they liked to earn extra money. Over time, they became proud to say that they actually paid for Mom/Dad’s gift themselves or were able to buy a few more of those designer jeans or whatever because they contributed to the ability to do so and the satisfaction that comes with it.
2nd – Get them a Personal Savings Account at age 16 and in High School:
With our youngest daughter, we immediately also set up for her to transfer $25 from her own checking into her own regular savings account on the 1st and the 15th of each month via auto-transfer. It may not seem like much but, $650 a year add ups for anyone much less a teenage. We told her not to spend it as if you dip into savings too much, the bank will make you pay a penalty. She didn’t touch it until late in her Freshman year of college when she need a deposit ASAP for her new apartment that she was moving into and she needed use it to bridge until our transfer to her checking account came through. She did put the money back into the account after we reimbursed her.
The summer before her Freshman year, and subsequent summers after, she worked at the Buckle and would put extra money away in her savings. During the Holidays, Buckle would call her to ask if she could help out again and over time, she just automatically, on her own would put money away for Spring Break fun, etc.
The Fall of her Sophomore year in College, she proudly told us not to worry about buying her college books and supplies anymore, as she was able to do that herself. She has paid for her books for all of her Sophomore, Junior, Senior and now Super Senior year.
This summer as a 5th year Senior she got a summer internship in her industry. She found herself earning $32 an hour in her full-time job, summer internship as a Mechanical Engineer. She was astounded at how much money she was bringing in on her own and approached us to just stop her allowance completely, as she had this easily on her own for the rest of the entire Sept. to May school year.
I’m not saying that they were perfect angels at money management, but I feel that doing this did help alleviate some of the stress of what we needed to put aside each month for them to handle the day to days of school and what they needed to work within as best they can…
Hope this helps.