This spring, many teenagers will be graduating from high school and going out into the real world. For many of them, it will be the first time they need to manage their own money.

Andy Mattingly from FORUM Credit Union has the following tips for graduating high school seniors.

What are some of the accounts that high school seniors should have?

The basics would include a checking account with a debit card, a savings account, either a secured credit card or a joint credit card with one of the parents and finally at least one person to person payment app if they don’t already have one established.  It is also important to have them put their cards in the mobile wallet of their choice as that likely have they will use most of the cards. These accounts will provide the foundation for a better after high school financial experience.

Are there important skills that they need, whether starting life or heading to college/trade school?

The most important skill is learning how to monitor their accounts which means making sure they have downloaded the apps and understand about balances, when credit card payments are due and generally making sure they avoid fees. Other important money habits include having a spending plan, preferably a Monday to Sunday plan because most spending starts on Thursday through the weekend.  It is also important to become very familiar with using discounts and probably most importantly, being able to avoid impulse purchases. The number one cause for younger people to run into high credit card debt or overdrawn accounts. 

What are some of the savvy skills that all graduating high school students will need?

One of the most adult efforts all high school graduates need to learn is about protecting their identity and their passwords. It starts by being very wary of texts or social media messages asking for personal information. Also important is creating unique passwords for financial accounts that are not anything like the passwords used on social media. Another new responsibility, especially for those leaving home and having roommates is to make sure to keep valuables in a more secure spot. Leaving gift cards, cash or even a password list out in the open is a habit that most younger people need to break because they are used to having their own room where no one else enters.

How can parents best achieve all of these learning opportunities?

Start early even before high school graduation getting all of these accounts setup for their seniors. It is also important to start giving them more financial responsibility which includes allowing them to fail at certain aspects of managing accounts. The consequences will be less severe while still in high school versus when they are on their own or at college or trade school. You also need to find ways to make it fund, encourage them to open brokerage accounts and learn more about investing, stock markets and even crypto if that is something that is of interest to them.

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