By the time they reach their teen years, kids are well on their way to becoming young adults who face a whole new world of responsibilities. You can't hold your teen's hand through the whole journey, but you can help prepare them for it. These tips can help you teach your teens what they need to know about finances, living arrangements, career, education and more.
- Household management. Once teens leave the nest they'll need to be able to maintain a home of their own. Prepare them by having them help maintain areas of your home beyond their own bedroom. Make sure they know the basics of laundry, cooking, simple home maintenance and how to use several basic "handyman" tools. Remind your teen that these added responsibilities are not a punishment, but a step toward maintaining their own safe and comfortable apartment or home.
- Cars. A car is a huge responsibility and a great opportunity to teach your teen about financial responsibility and safety (both your teen's and that of passengers and other motorists). Prepare your teen for car ownership by teaching budgeting and car shopping, insurance, maintenance, registration and inspection.
- Apartment adventures. Teens who plan to move into their own place will need to learn about apartment hunting, rent and associated costs, the application process, and their rights and responsibilities as tenants. Help your teen by making yourself available to answer questions and guide him or her through the process.
- College. Long before high-school graduation, college-bound teens need to maintain a high grade point average, get involved in extracurricular activities, study for and take standardized exams like the SAT or ACT, and submit college applications (with essays and other possible components). Discuss college options with teens so they can choose the schools best suited to you and your teen financially, geographically, socially, educationally and otherwise. Consider scholarships, grants, work-study programs or other means of financial aid to help cover the cost of college.
- Jobs. Get teens thinking about their short- and long-term job prospects by talking to them about their personal interests and strengths and (in the short-term) how much time they can devote to a job. Help your teen prepare a resume, fill out a basic work application and conduct a mock interview to practice answering questions. Explain proper interview attire and etiquette and help your teen search the Internet, newspapers, and employment agencies and network to find a job.
- Finances. The sooner teens learn about responsible money management, the less likely they are to make financial mistakes that could take years to recover from. Help your teen open a bank account, balance a checkbook, set a monthly budget, organize bills and build credit responsibly. Explain investment opportunities and interest, and make yourself available if your teen has questions.