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17 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Be Financially Independent

17 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Be Financially Independent

Whether your child is just a toddler, a teenager, or a young adult in college, it’s difficult to even think of teaching your kids about personal finance, especially when sometimes you’re not even sure yourself. The best way to learn is by teaching. So here are the seventeen essential things you must convey to your kids in order to instill the idea of becoming financially independent. Who knows, by teaching these essential things, you might learn a thing or two yourself!

1. Tell them not to depend on a traditional job as the only means of securing the future.

It might be difficult to say this to your kids if this is what you’ve been doing all your life, but times are changing and it’s becoming increasingly clear that we must learn to adapt and find multiple streams of income, and even embrace entrepreneurship. The traditional “one job till retirement” model is not working anymore, so get out of denial fast and let your kids learn about entrepreneurship.

2. Stop telling them that buying a house is the safest form of investing.

This is just not true. There are so many ways to invest your money that are actually safer than buying a house. (Roth IRAs, index funds, lifecycle funds, high yield savings accounts, for example!) Educate yourself about the stock market and these forms of investment if you don’t know already, and prepare your kids to go down the correct path when it comes to investing.

3. Teach them how to save money and pay bills on time by automating their finances.

Experts on personal finance will agree with me on this one, (including one of my favorites, Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.) Automating your money and bills is one of the best ways to keep your finances in top shape, earn stellar credit, curb overspending, and–best of all–not stress out about paying bills on time. Automation means you siphon your income into various channels each month (or each week) such as into a high yield savings account, an investment account, a credit card, and finally all your bills. This method forces you to “pay yourself first” by saving and investing, and then pay all your bills on time–leaving you with your true budget amount to spend for other things. If you don’t do this already–start now. Why not learn by teaching your kids about it first?

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4. Remind them of the importance and perks of having good credit, and show them how to do this–the right way.

Most Americans do credit cards the wrong way. The most important way to maintain good credit is to stop paying the minimum every month. Pay your balance back in full at the end of the month. If you can’t do this, it means you are living above your means, and that is no way to live. You can’t get financially independent by living above your means. Teach your kids how to use a credit card the right way, and tell them to think about paying it back in full at the end of the month whenever they want to pull out their credit cards to buy something. Credit cards, if used correctly, offer a tremendous amount of perks such a free flights, insurance, and even fee reductions, but only if your credit is in tip-top shape.

5. Help them set up high yield savings accounts, and a no-fee checking account.

Don’t use the brick and mortar banks anymore. The key here is online banks. The lower overhead of not having physical buildings means that these online banks don’t have ATM fees and overdraft fees, and they certainly don’t charge you for a checking account–even if you don’t have direct deposit! These fees are such a scam. Stop paying useless fees to the banks. You can also start by setting up an online, free checking account for your kids (when it is the right time), and help them set up a high yield savings account online as well, so they can have fun watching their money grow. Contrary to popular belief, money does grow–if you let it. My favorite online checking account is the Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account, and my favorite high yield savings account is American Express Personal Online Savings Account with a current steady yield of .85%.

6. Show them how to invest in the stock market with diversified life-cycle and index funds, and help them set up a Roth IRA as soon as they’re able to.

What? You don’t know how the stock market works? Well, neither do most experts! If you don’t know how to invest yourself, you should learn. But don’t worry–it’s pretty easy. There is such a thing as automatic investing, and it’s not about picking stocks. It’s all about automatic diversification of stocks. You need to stop being afraid of investing. There are many great resources to learn about this now, so start. Even if you are not doing it, your kids should as soon as they are old enough. There are some very easy and safe ways to invest in the stock market. Life-cycle funds automatically diversify your investments between stocks and bonds based on your age, while index funds offer a bit more customization. It will take one weekend to learn more about all this, and then you can teach your kids.

7. Show them how to live within their means by setting a good example first.

Stop buying things you don’t need and accumulating crap. Kids learn by osmosis. If they see you doing something, they will copy. You need to show them what smart buying is all about. First of all, have a budget and stay within it. Your budget can include calculated indulgences, of course! The point here is: you can’t teach good personal finance if you don’t at least try to practice it yourself.

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8. Encourage them to learn marketable skills with the online resources available, such as coding and web design.

Encouraging your kids to learn useful skills is one of the best ways to secure their financial future. Professions that will be beneficial in the future are not what parents have traditionally thought fruitful, such as studying to become doctors and lawyers. It’s actually more beneficial these days to learn creative skills such as design, art, and computer programming (yes, programming is quite creative.) Creativity is not so easily outsourced. Start with online schools such as skillshare, code academy, skillcrush, and code.org.

9. Open your mind about the possibilities of education–the world is changing and so is the university model.

It may not be 100% beneficial for the next generation of kids to all go to traditional colleges and get formal education. MOOCs (massive open online courses) are changing the way we view traditional education, and so is the abundance of student-loan debt enslaving the whole millennial generation. Your child’s generation doesn’t need to go through this. There are better ways!

10. Encourage the use of social media, but also teach them how to edit themselves online.

Personal branding online these days is essential for creating wealth. Kids are well prepared for this if you teach them how to curate and edit what they say and how they say it. Remind them that their online persona cannot be erased, and they need to avoid embarrassing mistakes. Each person should have a message to the world–help them start developing it. They may only be telling it to their friends now, but in the future it will be to co-workers, clients, bosses, and investors. Teach them how to manage their public image instead of completely discouraging the use of social media. It will be a necessary tool for the development of their careers later in life.

11. Instill the fundamentals of leadership into your child, even if they’re introverted.

Leadership capability is a pretty accurate indicator of success in an individual. Leadership skills include proactivity, responsibility, empathy, creativity, vision, and public speaking skills. Don’t underestimate the importance of teaching these types of skills, even if you believe your child is an introvert. Some of the best and most influential leaders are self-proclaimed introverts. Introversion doesn’t mean they won’t be natural leaders.

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12. Be creative with the allowance system. Don’t shield them from the process of earning and losing money.

Someone once said average people think emotionally about money while rich people think logically–like a puzzle game. Talk to your kids about money–don’t make it a taboo subject. Show them how to think about it logically, and make their allowance and wealth accumulation into a game. For example, create a good incentive: “If you make ten dollars selling lemonade, I will double it or triple it.” Encourage working for money using creativity, so that it is not always associated with exchanging time for money but associated with creativity instead. Help them create something, and sell it. Don’t only teach them to sell, teach them to leverage their skills to create something of value. The lemonade stand lesson is so important. These days, it can also be done online (i.e. set up an online shop, help them create a blog.) Tell them to use their allowance to create more money, instead of spending it all away.

13. Tell them stories about the famous entrepreneurs and game-changers who made a difference.

It is important to plant the seed of inspiration. Growing up with a vision–however small–is what differentiates the ones who make it big from the average ones. If your kids get inspired, they will want to create something of value and importance in the world as well. Kids are idealists of the best kind, with beautiful imaginations of endless possibilities. Don’t block this, enhance it by showing them the world of possibilities, not the world of fear, stability, security, and living only for yourself. Give them something to dream about, and someone to help.

14. Don’t just let your kids consume–let them see the behind-the-scenes, the ‘making of’s, and the budgets behind the movies and games they love.

Your kid loves games and movies? Well, that’s a really good thing! These industries are creative powerhouses. You can use this to your advantage. Kids love to see how things are made, the behind-the-scenes, how things are put together. Capitalize on their love of games and movies by showing them the processes behind how these creative projects get made. Show them documentaries about the sets, the teams, the artwork behind it all. Take them to studios or movie sets, find YouTube videos explaining how their favorite games are made, the technologies behind them, the budgets. Before you know it, they will be interested in the craft behind everything instead of just consuming things mindlessly. This will give them so much more to work with when deciding on what they want to do with their lives.

15. Don’t assume your kid knows what they want, but don’t force them down a career path that you think is right either.

Your kid will probably need time to figure things out. But don’t assume you know best. Encourage their natural talents, interests and habits, and let them know it is OK to make money by doing what they love. This is how every successful person is doing it these days. Don’t judge them by your own measures of what it means to be successful. Take a good look at your own advice and life and see if 20 or 30 years ago you would have taken the same path. Maybe, maybe not. Figure out what their strengths are and help them craft their own path to riches–even if it goes against your fundamental beliefs about making money. The game changers of today’s business world are authentic creatives doing what they love. Don’t let you kids fall behind.

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16. Stop teaching your kid how to survive–teach them how to accumulate wealth.

Don’t teach them to be afraid of accumulating money. Wealth can be used to do good in the world. We need more philanthropists and innovators in our world. There are so many important problems to solve and places to go. If everyone settled into living a safe life with a steady job, there would be no advancement. Don’t forget that safety is only an illusion and no amount of “job security” can keep your kids safe. They have a chance to learn from you now–not the hard way by losing a job or by being in massive debt.

17. Forget the lottery mentality. Show them how to take action toward their dreams.

The road to riches is paved with persistent, accumulated actions. Sometimes even mini-actions. Don’t tell your kids their dreams are too big. Don’t tell them the only way to do that is by winning the lotto. It’s simply not true. Help them take the first steps by having 100% faith in their wildest dreams and showing them ways to start on that path.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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