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School’s out: Time for a summer budget talk

Summer break is always an exciting time for young people.

Recent high school graduates are about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. Their plans could be post-secondary education, full-time employment, or a mix of work and school.

Some non-graduates may be entering the workforce for the first time, or taking on volunteer work that will help them with their future studies and career aspirations. Others may just take a break and spend time with family and friends.

For parents, now is a good time to sit down and discuss budgeting because summer can be a drain on a young person’s or the family’s finances.

Concerts, movies, dining out, shopping, and transportation all cost money. Knowing what is achievable will help your child avoid disappointment or confrontations over money.

Parents should be honest about what they are willing to pay for, and what they expect their kids to cover. For example, recent graduates who are not pursuing post-secondary education may need to pay room-and-board after they find employment.

To get the conversation started, it is best to begin with some basic questions like these:

  • Is there anything you feel you need to buy this summer?
  • Is there anything you want to buy this summer?
  • What are your plans for the fall or next year?
  • Do you have any thing you need or want to do this fall?
  • How do you plan to pay for things now and in the fall?

The idea is to get your teen thinking about their wants, needs, and goals. After you have established answers to these questions, you can start to discuss budgeting and saving.

You can offer to help them draw up a budget. Start with income (both employment and allowance) and expenses. This will show them how much they make, and spark awareness of how costs add up over time.

Once you establish income and expenses, discuss what they must do to save money for their goals. Encourage them to track their spending over the summer, and offer to help them if they need it. If you want to make it a little more fun, look for some online tools or apps that can help.

Be sure to check in over the summer to see if they are still on track. You should also check to see if they are managing to put any savings aside. If not, discuss how they can adjust their budget and plan. Do not apply too much pressure. Guilt and nagging may have a negative effect.

The idea is to empower your teenage son or daughter to make better decisions with their money now and in the future.

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