You’ve done a great job guiding your child through school, and now he/she is ready to graduate and start a career. We’ve all heard the horror stories about 20-somethings failing to plan ahead with their finances and the trouble it can lead to later on down the line. How can you guide your child through the turbulent 20s? Here are 5 easy ways you can help:
1) Help her negotiate salary for her first job
Many seniors in college spend considerable time looking for that perfect first job. Certainly, it needs to be a good cultural and skill fit. However, equally as important is the compensation offered to your son or daughter.
While still in college, encourage your child to visit the career counseling center. Many universities have hired numerous professionals who can provide specific guidance on what to expect in terms of compensation and benefits. Plus, they can help with interview coaching. Sometimes, knowing what to say (or not) in a job interview can not only give your child an edge over other candidates, but put a couple more dollars in her pocket, too! This article by the Penny Hoarder offers some great interview tips.
What to do once you’ve scored the perfect first job? Your child may be able to negotiate a salary, especially if he has multiple offers from several companies. Just because it’s your first job doesn’t mean that you should be shy about asking for money. Speaking up is a valuable skill to adopt early when it comes to moving up the career ladder.
2) Review and Discuss Company Benefits
When your child has settled on a job, sit down and review the benefits packet with him or her. Oftentimes, looking through a corporate benefits booklet can be daunting (especially if you’ve never done it before), and it’s something your child would love to talk through with you. This is an opportunity to educate your child on the importance and cost of things they may have taken for granted throughout life, such as health insurance. Who knows – maybe their new company will offer some unique benefits, like pet insurance or financial education!
Finally, make sure that any benefits, such as insurance premiums or 401(k) contributions, are taken into consideration when putting together your child’s post-college budget.
3) Create a Budget
More and more often today, children return to live at home after graduation. Sometimes, that’s not geographically or emotionally feasible. Often, if your child does come home, they want it to be brief. Regardless of their post-grad location, it’s important to help your child think through income and expenses since she’ll be starting her first job.
If she’s living at home, encourage her to start saving for rent, utilities, food for when she’ll be on her own, so it’s not a huge shock to her budget once she moves out. Sometimes, parents charge their children rent for living at home, only to save the money for their child’s benefit once moving day finally arrives.
If you child is unable to live at home (or when she’s finally ready to move out), sit down and put together an actual budget. Start with figuring out mandatory expenses, like rent, loan repayments, car costs, food, and utilities. This can be a time to discuss things like the necessity of a fancy apartment or new car – it can be eye opening to a young person to realize that living in a trendy apartment means less money for fun with friends!
Moreover, if the budget is too tight, you can decide if you’d like to temporarily assist financially while she makes it through the first years of post-grad life. Analyzing a budget with your son or daughter will help you both specifically identify where your financial help will go, and for how long so they can plan ahead.
4) Encourage your child to open a Roth IRA
Roth IRAs are invaluable for young people, who have a lot of time to work but don’t have a lot of income (yet). Unlike a traditional IRA, you don’t receive a tax deduction for contributions. However, once money is in a Roth IRA, funds grow tax-free, and most significantly, come out tax-free in retirement. If you begin saving early, the tax-free compounded growth can be tremendous!
Even if your 20-something earns a couple thousand dollars at a part time job, he or she can contribute to a Roth IRA. You can contribute either 100% of earned income or $5,500 for 2018. If your child can’t afford to make this contribution with his/her wages, you as a parent are permitted to make the contribution on their behalf. Some reasons to take advantage of this as a low wage 20-something are because, as his income increases, he may be disallowed from making outright contributions to this account.
5) Get her involved with Managing the Account!
Whether you’re helping oversee the investment of this account or you’ve delegated to a professional, make sure your son or daughter knows what is going on too. Funds are for their retirement, after all!
Send your child copies of the account statements on a periodic basis so she can see how the account is doing. This exercise is a great way to educate your child about risk tolerance – as the account inevitably fluctuates, see how comfortable (or not) your child is with the risk. It will be a good lesson on the importance of diversification.
Parents, offer your insights below. What techniques have you found to be helpful to your children when teaching them how to survive financially after college?