Age 17

Your birds are getting ready to fly.

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Your kid is probably eyeing the real world with envy, counting the days to living the dream of renting a split bachelor in a 12-story walk-up. Use this time to casually LARP their future, so that once they’re out on their own, they’ve given life on their own some thought. 

Start Here.

Budget. If you and your kid dislike this word as much as we do, find something that feels more motivating and empowering. They’re stepping into a powerful period of possibility in their lives. Their view of money should reflect that, even while they’re living on very little.

  • A Spending Plan keeps the focus on planning for spending, rather than restricting it.
  • A Financial Plan can include plans for the future as well as the present. Bonus: It sounds fancy. 
  • An Expense Tracker can help track money going out. So, as your teenager gets used to new bills and financial realities, they’re less likely to be eating Cup Noodles at the end of every month for the rest of their youth. 

Keep Going.

What are the things they’ll need to pay for once they’re on their own? Maybe they’ve forgotten to include the gas bill, the electric bill, or the grocery bills, in their back-of-the-napkin calculation of the rent they can afford. Help your kid establish a spending plan, and get focused on the things that are easiest to forget – bills, a rainy day fund, lease payments, car insurance or a subway pass, and food/vet bills for a pet if they plan to adopt one. (Build this last item into your budget too, in the event said pet is dropped off on your doorstep in a basket…)

It’s a good time to talk about short- versus long-term financial planning. Your kid’s Wealthie account, for example, is a long-term investment. But, if they’ll soon need money for rent and other short-term expenses, they may want to consider “money market” investments such as GICs and term deposits to provide some light interest.

Get This.

Which brings us to life itself. Humans adapt. When we make more (or less) money, we tend to expand or shrink into our new circumstances accordingly. Setting a benchmark of up to 15% as a constant investment goal will help to keep things on the level. Of course, life creeps up.

It’s a low-stakes time to lay down some gentle boundaries that will help your kid understand how life’s going to change once they’re living on their own. Walk through what might happen if the semester-long budget, for example, gets blown in week two. 

Are they setting money aside for spending? Is it a good time to pick up a gig for a few extra bucks? If you’re having these conversations with your kid, then we’re confident they’re a financially literate wizard at 17. 

Now, let them have the experience of walking into a job interview and crushing it.