How to help your children be financially independent by age 18

Skydiving was my high school graduation gift... to myself, purchased by me!
Skydiving was my high school graduation gift... to myself, purchased by me!

I don't make a lot of money. Most people in my position are living paycheck by paycheck. But when I think about it, people who make much more than I do are living the same way. I'm content because I am good at saving money, and that's the way that it's been since I was in high school. I graduated from college without debts, I bought two cars, and I buy basically whatever I (really really) want because I can make smart choices about saving. I have contribute a decent amount toward my retirement. I haven't had to ask my parents for money... well, ever! And I'm proud of it. I even bought a house by myself.

I thank my mother and father for this. They did a great job at raising me so that I could be financially independent and stable. There are a few things that they did stress in my youth, and I will try to impart what I can observe that my parents did:

  1. Value hard work - My parents have always praised people who get up early and work hard. Even when I was little and I picked lemons and made my own lemonade for my front-yard stand, I can remember my parents complimenting me and telling me what a good job I did. (I can also remember my parents jeering my brother for sleeping in and going in late to work.) It was easy for me to get a job and work all summer, every summer in high school because I can remember my dad telling everying about my job and how proud he was of me. I guess in this case, a parent has to have the respect of their child in order to encourage them to work and raise money... So that's up to you :)
  2. Don't buy them "stuff" - Sure, my family bought presents for Christmas and birthdays, and occasional little gifts for when I did a great job, but they never bought me whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I understood the value of money because I had to earn it and I was responsible for spending it. I know a lot of friends whose parents would just buy them things - their first car, their first apartment in college... their college tuition - and they would just crash the car and everything else they were given. I shuddered.
  3. Educate them about financial items of business - Teach kids about taxes, stocks, and other things that most people wouldn't think about until they're adults. It helps bring a child to maturity; if they're treated like a child, then they will act like a child, and so if you involve a child in activities they will need to know eventually, then they can get a jump on them and learn about them earlier. My mom taught me about writing checks when I wasn't quite 10, and now I'm great at balancing my books. I've never paid a bill late, and I know it's directly because of that education.
  4. Inspire independence - If a child is to feel that they can make wise financial decisions on their own, they should feel that they can make other important decisions on their own, as well. My mom let me help with buying her car and big appliances, making me feel responsible and giving me the confidence to make those decisions in my own life.
  5. Teach them that money isn't everything - When I was a child, we never had any expensive things, and we never went on any crazy-expensive trips. We had our backyard with our creek full of animals and new, natural things to play with. We played games outside and spent our summer vacations at our grandparents' mobile home at the local lake. We never depended on having material things, and as a result, I never feel the need to buy anything expensive. I'm much happier to put my money away!

Budgeting for Teenagers - SunTrust

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Comments 20 comments

charanjeet kaur profile image

charanjeet kaur 7 years ago from Delhi

This is a very practical and has sound evidence as it shows you as a fine example. I love every bit of it i would presonally speak of people in india they are very hesitant to give financial and emotional freedom to children to make decisions. A great hub and very inspirational one. Thanx for sharing

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Glassvisage, good for you! Your parents did a great job. Looks like they can be proud of you -- and you can be proud of them!

One small note: You did have material things. For instance, "backyard with our creek full of animals"-- that's a wonderful material resource to have! Just because something isn't considered a luxury item doesn't mean it's not material.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California Author

Thank you both! Charanjeet, thanks for including that cultural note. Aya, as always, I appreciate you for being a careful reader. I have always thought of "material" as having more of a commercial meaning, not so much luxury as just something to buy.

packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

A very good Hub. The points that you have mentioned are of high importance for all parents especially the young parents. Thanks for the advice

2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Good for you and a Gold Star for your parents. It is so important for parents to teach their children all the useful things that they know.

The sad aspect is that some parents do not have a full skill set to pass on to the next generation.

lalarry profile image

lalarry 7 years ago

Excellent Hub! We hear all the time about the economic dissaster that our politicians may be leaving for the youth of tomorrow.The truth be told, the origin of such dissasters have been planted by the parents of today. The parenting skills you speak of do a great deal in eliminating at an early age the selfishness and greed that has left us all in econimic parile.

RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

Such true words. I'm battling this with my children because all their friends all so much more stuff. That includes the ones who are "poor". They can't afford their bills but their children have the newest ipod. We can't and won't get them all the toys and it is a battle almost daily. Though we try to teach them, family, friends, and society teach the opposite. Thank you for an inspiring piece. I'm going to have my 12 year old read it.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California Author

Thank you all for your comments! I hope I make my parents proud :)

RGraf, you brought up a point that reminds me of a family I know. I used to be their office assistant and I would deal with their bills. They have the newest cars and toys and games, but they have so many bills to pay! The cars are leased and the rest are just expensive! I would rather not get involved in any of that :(

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Many parents and children should be reading your hub. Kudos to your parents. I try to instill some of those values in my 22 years old daughter and now 6 years old son. It is values like those that would prevent the economical crisis that the world is in right now, delaying instant gratification...

Another excellent hub. I'll be passing it on to my daughter.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

You are, without doubt, the most well balanced young adult I have ever come across. Good luck and every success to you. You deserve it.  I wish your refreshing attitude was catching!

broddy 7 years ago

thanks, very informative article and very helpful too. You should be very proud of your self. I can imagine your parents are so proud of you too.

nigelking profile image

nigelking 6 years ago from Planet Earth - I think!

Let wisdom prevail! Great Hub - will cut and paste into my kids school books. Well done!

Michellcat 6 years ago

Congratulations on making the $200 a week, but may I ask how you can afford to live AND pay tuition, on $800 a month?

Even a one-bedroom rents for around $4-$500, and that's if it's in a poor neighborhood. The nice ones can't be had for less than $600. Add bills and car payments,and groceries, and I can't see where the tuition is coming from. Sorry to be so critical, but I had the opposite upbringing.

When I tried to put up a lemonade stand or sell cookies door to door, I was told I was stupid. And it was true. I had very little success with it. I worked at KMart in High School, and tried to save the money. But since they knew I had it, my parents made me chip on on the phone bill and light bill, and soon it was all gone. I went to college with no car, bus pass, or bicycle, and quickly had trouble getting to class. Also, I found that my job in the dorm cafeteria was never enough to cover my rent, so I was already in debt after one semester.

The only way to make a child completely financially independent at 18, is to make sure they have the skills and qualifications for a GOOD job, before they graduate from High School, so that they can pay their own way in the world whether or not they graduate from college.

Your parents should be very proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself, and them. I suspect that is the real formula. If that is lacking, then all the college tuition and cars and support in the world won't compensate for it.

By the same token, all the tough love in the world won't turn a child into a winner, if all his life he's been told he's a loser. We have to know what success feels like, to keep creating it.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California Author


You bring up a good point, and that is that emotional rewards such as encouragement are important in financial independence. I guess I am lucky. My parents encouraged me to apply for many scholarships, and I searched online and applied for national ones and ended up with enough to cover my first year of school. I would also refrain from participating in activities that cost money; even if I was invited to a group lunch, I would often eat beforehand or even bring a little with me so I wouldn't buy as much or any at all. You gotta do what you gotta do.

madtown_jeremy profile image

madtown_jeremy 6 years ago from Madison, WI

Excellent hub!

I have an 8 year old daughter and in this culture it's so difficult to teach her about the ins and outs of money while at the same time shielding her from the pop-music idea that money means everything. Kids now are so unsatisfied with everything they get.

forlan profile image

forlan 6 years ago

It is very nice tips. All parent should teach this tips to the children. thanks.

eduscribe profile image

eduscribe 6 years ago

Desire leads to discontent and you have been raised to be content rather than full of "desire" for things. I was raised in a similar way, but without the benefit of "financial literacy". Thank you and Keep on Hubbin'!

EverydayIsAGift profile image

EverydayIsAGift 4 years ago from Jersey Shore

Wow...if every parent listened to your advice our society would be a much better place.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California Author

Thank you for your comment! :)

Edward J. Palumbo profile image

Edward J. Palumbo 2 years ago from Tualatin, OR

Well written! I am blessed with a fine daughter (27) and son (22), and I agree with what you've written. I have no doubt your patents have many reasons to be proud of you.

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