Sure, you love your children, but there’s no doubt that raising them is expensive. Many parents miss their kids when they move out, but they’re glad to be rid of a heavy financial obligation. . .unless the adult child moves back in. Suddenly, aging parents may find themselves paying for Junior again, negatively affecting their finances. One of the best ways to guard against that is to make sure Junior is ready to responsibly handle his finances when he flies the coop.
Since our son was about 12 years old, he has been eagerly anticipating moving out and living on his own when he turns 18. We want to make sure that when he does move out (whether that’s at 18 or a year or two later), that he can live independently and sustainably. These are some of the skills we’re working on.
How to Prepare Your Teens To Live On Their Own
There are some essential skills your child should master before moving out of the home:
Have a Strong Work Ethic
Some teens leave the nest never having worked a job or done chores around the house. Kids who leave home without a strong work ethic are less likely to successfully transition from childhood to adulthood, meaning they have a higher chance of ending up back at home.
Teach children from the time they’re young to work for the things they want. This becomes even more important as they reach the teen years. Rather than just give your child $20 when she wants to head to the movies with friends, make her work for her money by doing a job around the house or helping a neighbor with a task.
Budget and Handle Money Responsibly
Many an adult child has moved back home saddled with debt from the college years. To avoid this, in the high school years, teach your child how to budget. Show her how you budget for the family and have her create her own budget with the money she earns from an allowance or part-time job. Teach her to save for an emergency fund and to save for upcoming expenses.
Just as important as teaching her how to budget is to teach her how to use money responsibly. One way to do start doing this is to give your 13 or 14 year-old child the money you would normally spend for her clothes for the season. Let your child buy her own clothes with the money, and she will start learning how far a dollar stretches. Another way to do this is to let her buy her own food.
Buy and Cook Food
When our son was 15.5 years old, we decided to give him a weekly grocery budget and let him do all of his own grocery shopping and cooking. This has been interesting to watch. The first few weeks, he ate too many carbs because they were cheap and he thought they would fill him up, which he quickly found to not be true.
The next few weeks, he had a meat heavy diet, which left him feeling sluggish.
The weeks after that, he started finding healthy recipes with balanced nutrition. He did all of this with minimal input from us. He learned by doing and experiencing.
Plus, he’s learning not only how to grocery shop wisely, but also how to meal plan and cook, essential skills for when he leaves the home.
Obviously, there are many steps to get a teen ready to leave the nest, but right now in our family, we’re focusing on these three as they seem most important for a teen to be able to successfully live on their own.
What suggestions would you add for how to prepare your teens to live on their own?
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.