I'm not the first person to say it -- it's expensive out there. During these challenging financial times we live in, when a coffee "on the run" can cost you anywhere from $2.00 to $7.00, how do we as parents, ever expect to be able to the cut the financial umbilical cord with our kids?
As the mother of three young women, all in their 20s -- this stage has not proven easy to tackle. Our 27-year-old has recently moved back in to help her save for her upcoming wedding, while she pursues different job opportunities. Our middle daughter, who is 26, and works as an assistant stylist in LA, resides in our second home there -- free from paying rent (although she pays for her other expenses). The youngest, who is 20, is in her third year university and living off campus with roommates. We're helping out while she's in school by covering her rent, and her tuition. She covers her day-to-day necessities with money she's saved from summer internships.
As you can see, we're currently on the hook for a lot with our girls, and I know I'm not the only parent who feels this way. Younger kids these days no longer just have part time jobs. The emphasis is on a competitive sport or two, music lessons, after-school tutoring -- all to assist them with their GPAs so they can get into that Ivy League School, or college of choice. While these are all important skills, and assets for them to have, what good is it for them to have academic intelligence, but not financial intelligence? The short answer: it's no good.
If you're like me and you want to be able to cut the financial umbilical cord with your kids, start when they're young. Help them procure a part time job -- even if it's just one shift a week at first. Have them open their own bank account, and teach them how to balance their account.
Back in the day -- I sort of abhor using this phrase, because it makes me feel old and sound like my mother, which I always swore I wouldn't do when I grew up and became a parent -- I was 12 I started my first job. I was hired to be the pizza girl at a "restaurant" in the mall food court. My wage was $2.10 per hour.
I felt a wonderful feeling of independence. I could buy what I wanted with my hard-earned money: jeans my single mother could not afford for me, lunch with friends, or I could take myself to the movies, something I loved to do.
It's not like our daughters aren't trying to make their own way, it's just that most jobs for young people leaving post-secondary school, are unpaid internships. I'm not kidding you when I tell you, it is a bit bleak as a parent to visualize the day when our girls will be wholly, financially independent of us.
So how can we help our kids find financial stability while we "cut the cord"? Show them how to budget. Show them how to save for items on their "must have" lists, and how to save long-term for a "rainy day." What I will say is this; if you do the work now, if you teach them to have respect for your money, and their money as they earn it, you're much less likely to end up with a 30-something year old kid living in your basement, while you continue to foot the bill for them.
Giving them the tools they need to not only understand money, but also develop a healthy relationship with it, is your best bet to getting that financial umbilical cord cut -- sooner than later. Do your part in getting them on their way to financial independence; they will thank you, and your marriage will thank you too! Less money spent on your adult children is more money to spend on romantic holidays, and "couple time" or "you time" -- and how can that be bad?
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