My son just received his first real paycheck. Like most 18-year-olds, he didn't have an idea of how to spend his money other than to buy whatever he wanted. However, I had other plans. I want my son to make better financial decisions than I did. I want him to learn from my money mistakes and I want to set him up for success.

So now begins the hardest lesson for so many people – learning how to budget.

  • Step One discuss the importance of an emergency fund.

    Granted, should my son have an emergency at this stage in his life, his father and I have his back. But there will come a time when he'll be on his own and the good money habits he establishes now will benefit him in the future. For now, he's setting aside a small percentage of his check to establish his emergency fund.

  • Step Two: identify his financial obligations.

    Currently, he makes a token car payment to us. Because this job is a temporary position and he doesn't have another job lined up, he made the decision to put aside several months' worth of car payments.

  • Step Three: discuss short- and long-term goals.

    Eventually my son wants to have his own apartment. I explained what that entailed, from deposits to utilities to other expenses. We also talked about working towards multiple goals; about having short-term goals in addition to long-term plans. Just like his emergency fund, he decided to set aside a percentage from each paycheck, dedicated to his short-term goals.

I emphasized that by meeting his financial obligations first, he could freely spend what was left without worrying about next week or next month. Now that all his bills were paid, he could relax and enjoy the fruits of his hard labor.

His father and I are open about our finances and we often talk about our financial goals and our emergency fund. Because we are so open, the topic of money management wasn't foreign to him and the conversation went smoothly.

My goal, like parents everywhere, is to raise a self-sufficient, responsible, happy adult. Being financially responsible is a big part of that. It sets you up for success.

It's never too late to start! If you need a hand getting started on your own journey, contact TTCU today.