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Back to School: Revisiting the summer budget talk

At the end of June, I encouraged parents to sit down with their kids to discuss and create a summer budget. The idea was to empower your son or daughter to make better decisions with their money now and in the future.

I suggested some key questions to ask, and encouraged you to make it fun by finding online and mobile tools (eg. apps) to help in the planning and development of a budget.

I hope that you’ve been checking (without pressure) to see how things are going. If not, it would be a good idea to do it now – Labour Day is just around the corner!

Start by bringing it up casually to get a conversation going, or suggest a time to sit down to discuss the topic. A good approach might be to remind your son or daughter that summer is winding down, and it is a good time to plan for the upcoming year.

If they are going on to post-secondary education, you could start with questions four and five on our pre-summer list:

  • Do you have anything you need or want to do this fall?
  • How do you plan to pay for things now and in the fall?

Finding out the answers to these questions will allow you to explore whether or not they stuck to a budget over the summer, and whether or not they saved any money.

Be supportive if they have fallen off track, and help them refocus.

Remind them that post-secondary education is costly, and they should be careful not to fall into debt, as it can hinder their ability to purchase things like a home, a car, or a vacation in the future. Take the opportunity to discuss some possible milestones and goals they might have to give them a reality check.

For those who are not going back to school, you can start with question three from our pre-summer list.

  • What are your plans for the fall or next year?

Of course, you will want to make sure you are not putting on pressure or being confrontational. This can sound like a loaded question (i.e. what are you going to do with the rest of your life?). Your son or daughter will definitely take it the wrong way if presented too bluntly.

If you had the discussion in June, the answer you receive may surprise you. They may have a different viewpoint after spending the summer with friends and acquaintances that are heading back to school, or others who are experiencing full time work for the first time.

For me, it was my first full time summer job that made me think I needed to start putting a post-secondary plan together. I went into that summer without a plan, and it took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do, but I eventually went on to university, graduated, and I now do work that is a better fit for me.

That is not to say school is for everyone. Working helped me put money away, which enabled me to fund my education. Your son or daughter may want to work to fund a backpacking trip, or they may have a plan to start their own company.

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