Family First

How to Prepare Your Children to Leave the Nest

by Erik Neilson

There may be nothing quite as terrifying for teens and young adults as leaving home to live on their own for the first time. Uprooting from the nest can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially for those who are moving a long distance away from home. At the end of the day, ensuring a smooth transition for those who have lived at home their whole lives comes down to the efforts of their parents. 

Once they’ve left for the first time, young adults often take one of many different roads. Some live as frugally as possible so as to save what little money they have, while others rack up massive amounts of credit card debt in a short period of time. Some even hope that their parents will continue to sustain them, which only prolongs the transition period and makes things more difficult for both parties. 

If you prepare your children to leave the nest, you’ll effectively be helping them on their first step towards living for themselves—here are a few tips to help get the ball rolling. 

1. Start with the Non-financial Basics

It may seem as if it goes without saying that your children need to be taught the basics of getting through daily life before moving out of the house, but it’s amazing how commonly this gets overlooked. More often than not, teens leave home for college with little knowledge about how to do their laundry, cook a nutritional meal, buy their own necessities or even perform simple vehicular maintenance. Some parents believe in the concept of allowing their children to learn these “facts of life” on their own, but teaching these simple and valuable lessons ahead of time can help to ensure a smooth transition to a new lifestyle, which is worth its weight in gold. 

2. Discuss the Dangers of Credit Cards

A credit card can be a lifesaver in emergency situations. When used as a means for building a record collection or buying lavish meals out on the town, however, credit cards can be a one-way trip toward financial ruin. This is something that many teens and young adults simply don’t understand—especially those who are new to the concept of credit altogether. Discussing the dangers of overspending with credit cards and emphasizing the importance of paying off debt on time is perhaps the most effective way to steer your children clear of future financial problems.

3. Emphasize the Importance of Saving

Planning for the future has never been as important as it is today, and understanding how to properly save money at an early age is an essential part of the process. Most teens and young adults who leave for college or a career think that saving is something they don’t have to worry about for many years to come, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The earlier one can start saving, the more financially sound their future is likely to be. 

So, just how can you get your teen to focus on saving instead of spending money carelessly? Helping them to set up a Roth IRA is an excellent starting point, especially if they’ll be working. A Roth IRA is essentially a savings account that grows tax-free throughout the individual’s life, and there are a variety of different options available in terms of savings and interest rates. Once your child begins their career either in place of or after finishing college, he or she may be presented with an option to establish a 401(k), which should be encouraged as an additional measure for saving toward the future. 

Leaving the nest can be difficult for both children and their parents. If they’re prepared, however, hindrances and roadblocks won’t be nearly as problematic as they might otherwise be.