Preparing Youth Financially

In the past few years, our two daughters left home to further their education and training. Since financial obligations were a big part of this transition, we started to prepare early. From our experiences we learned several ways to help our teenagers manage their finances so they were better prepared to leave home.

  1. 1.

    Teach your child to save and budget early. It is difficult for teenagers to save all the money for a four-year college education or other schooling and training. But they can pay a portion and should start saving as soon as possible, ideally in their early teens. Help them develop a budget, and periodically talk about their finances. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have financial problems. When on their own, they may feel too embarrassed to say anything until their once-small financial problems become calamities. Your experience and advice can be as important as your dollars when your teenager is starting out.

  2. 2.

    Discourage credit card use and unessential student loans. Easy credit is a great temptation, especially if your child’s friends often use credit cards and seem to have a lot of money. Teach about the consequences of debt, which can occur with frequent credit card use, especially for students using their first cards. Encourage your teen to budget available funds and enjoy the blessings of debt-free living. With inflating college costs, student loans are sometimes needed, but they should be used only after a budget has been exhausted and should not be used to finance luxuries unrelated to schooling.

  3. 3.

    Don’t purchase a car unless it is necessary. Teens do not necessarily need a car at school, though they may be accustomed to driving one at home. Encourage your son or daughter to use a bicycle or public transportation instead.

  4. 4.

    Write letters or use e-mail. Supply your child with note cards and stamps when they leave home, or use e-mail. Public libraries and many universities and military bases have free e-mail access. Using the telephone to make long-distance calls to you or their friends can create a significant financial burden. An occasional telephone call is a treat, but children don’t need to call home several times a week.

  5. 5.

    Teach your child to pay tithing and other donations. Encourage teens to pay tithing on whatever modest amount they earn. If applicable, share your testimony about how you paid tithes and fast offerings when you were young and money was tight. Through your example they can realize the blessings of living this commandment, especially during lean times.

  6. 6.

    Help your child pay taxes. Paying taxes is a new responsibility for many young people. Help them prepare their returns for the first year or two, then discuss the results so they can plan for future withholdings and tax liability.

  7. 7.

    Prepare for unexpected expenses. Eventually, your child may ask for more money. An unexpected bill may arrive, or an opportunity may arise that requires an immediate deposit. Before teens leave home, explain your financial circumstances and ability to help. When more money is needed, discuss what it will be used for and whether it is a loan or gift. Arrange access to their bank account beforehand, not to pry but to help with emergency transactions.

Financial security does not necessarily come from amassing large amounts of money but from managing what you have. Begin preparing your children in their early teens for the time they will leave home. It is satisfying to prepare them financially and help them achieve their goals.Debbie Woodward, Elder Creek Ward, Elk Grove California Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Reclaiming Monday Nights

In the past, our family was “hit and miss” with family home evening. By the time we had dinner and gathered everyone together, we generally fell into the habit of playing a game and eating ice cream. As our children have grown older, we have needed a more structured, gospel-centered family home evening. Shortly after a letter from the First Presidency was read in Church urging families to reclaim Mondays for family home evening, we set a family goal to “get serious” about family night. We use the Family Home Evening Resource Book (item no. 31106, U.S. $5.00), Gospel Principles (31110, U.S. $2.75), and other Church materials to plan our lessons. We also add ideas to meet our family’s needs. Following are some of our favorite activities that help us to hold family home evening regularly:

Magazine Monday. This is our favorite activity! We each read our age-appropriate Church magazine in advance. Then we each report on our favorite article. We have had many wonderful gospel discussions based on the articles we have read. It’s hard to end these home evenings, since someone usually says, “Wait. I have just one more thing I want to share!” We have gained many insights into our children’s understanding by listening to them and then discussing the articles they have chosen.

Family Preparedness Night. As a family we discussed our preparedness needs, and everyone selected an emergency-preparedness topic to research. We then planned which night we would each present a topic. Our teenager chose fire safety. She charted fire-escape routes for our home and made sure we bought new fire extinguishers. During one Family Preparedness Night when we had planned to talk about poison safety, we inadvertently learned about tornadoes instead! In Idaho tornadoes are not common, but that evening we experienced a severe storm. We learned firsthand that we had enough food, water, candles, and blankets. However, we had no batteries for our radios, so we were not able to track the storm’s progress. Will we be prepared next time? Yes!

Prophet Night. We have enjoyed learning about President Gordon B. Hinckley’s life as we have read the books written by him or about him. We also watch conference addresses so we can listen to our prophet’s voice.

Family Friendshipping Night. Our family is relatively new to our area, so we have started inviting other families to share our fourth Monday. We have a lesson, an activity, and a treat. We have made many new friends, and it’s a great way to share gospel discussions with others. During this evening, we also look for opportunities to serve others and share the gospel. Inviting nonmembers and less-active members for a fun-filled evening is an effective way to befriend and fellowship them!

Our family has been blessed as we have reclaimed Monday evenings for family night. Each week we look forward to learning the gospel together, building our testimonies, strengthening our family—and, yes, eating ice cream!Joy M. Sorensen, Woodhaven Ward, Taylor Mountain Idaho Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker