Graduating to…

For many, May is the season of graduations. It’s so busy, so exciting and sad and involved. There are activities and tasks and parties. There are pictures and gowns and diplomas. It is a whirlwind of action and everybody talks about “graduating from” – from high school, from college, from grad school. It’s funny that we don’t talk about what people are graduating “to” – to the next level in school, to a job, to “real life.” It’s there in the background, but at graduation time, we are looking backward and not forward.

So what is your graduate graduating to this year? Is he graduating to a new level of responsibility with his money? Is she graduating from being dependent to being independent financially? It’s helpful to take this time of year and see how you can help your kids graduate to a new financial level.

For grade school kids, perhaps you set up a weekly allowance and tell them that’s all they get – treats, activities, things that they want all must come from that one pot. It will be interesting to see how each child manages their pot of money. The older they are, they more than should be responsible for.

For middle school kids, perhaps they need to earn their pot of money – bigger jobs equal bigger pay. Initiative and creativity result in bigger payouts. This is a time when kids can be a babysitter, a pet sitter, or provide some basic yard work around the neighborhood. What is the rule about giving, saving, and spending when they earn their own money?

For high school kids, it is really time for a job. For anyone under 16, those jobs need to be local but for those over 16, hit the fast food places and find a way to make some money. What have you discussed about saving some of those earnings for college? Now is the time to set an expectation.

For college kids, it is really the time to talk about managing money, having a spending plan, and setting up a savings strategy. These folks ought to be working or at least interning in their field to start getting ready to launch into financial independence. It is important for them to start getting in tune with how much “bills” cost – cell phone, car insurance, health insurance, etc. These not-very-fun purchases will soon be part of their everyday lives – are they getting ready?

Amid all of the excitement about graduating from, take a little time to focus your kids on what they are graduating to with this new school year. Summer is a slower time for most so seize this time and start focusing them on graduating to good money habits.

To your financial success!