It seems like milestones come fast and furiously when kids are young: first steps, first words, first birthday, first day of kindergarten, etc. As they grow up, the milestones are measured in terms of new gray hairs for their parents: getting a driver’s license, graduating from high school, or going off to school in another state. Regardless of what your family considers a milestone, whether it’s entering the police academy like their dad and grandfather did, or going to trade school or college, there’s no time like the present for your 18-year old to understand how people pay the bills when they can no longer work.
First and Foremost
Of all the “firsts” and new milestones that kids experience and reach, turning 18 may be one of the most significant in terms of responsibility, and that’s because they are now legal adults. With all that new-found freedom, there is also the idea of much different and more serious consequences for their actions (when and if they get a case of “the dumbs”).
That parents play a vital role in helping mold their children into law-abiding, responsible adults who make their own appointments, pay their own bills, and generally take care of themselves is no secret. So don’t be the parent who forgets to mention what his life may look like 10, 20, or even 40 years down the road.
Two Big Ideas
Here are two important ideas all young adults should be exposed to by the time they turn eighteen, especially when those adult-sized paychecks start rolling in.
First, open the books. Your young adult needs to know how the world operates, and that means showing him the underbelly of a household budget. Sure, he might know what new cleats or a high-end catcher’s mitt cost, but what about all the stuff he isn’t around to choose and watch you buy because he’s busy playing baseball?
Pull out the receipts (or show them your online bank account statement) for everything you’ve spent money on in the last 30 days, from $50 co-pays to insurance premiums, including long-term care coverage. Midnight trips to the drug store for cough medicine and family weddings out of state happen. The days of your son wandering into the kitchen to find the fridge magically stocked are over; give him a true understanding of how all those incidental expenses, the ones that keep everyone happy and healthy, can add up.
Next, immortality is expensive! Instead of trying to get your eighteen-year-old son to understand he isn’t going to live forever, try showing him just how expensive it is to stay alive and well, let alone take the family on a beach vacation! He probably has no concept of retirement other than it’s something his grandparents do. It’s also pretty hard to tell a kid who has just brought home his first real paycheck and looks forward to buying a truck why he should also be thinking about saving and long term care coverage.
However, it’s still crucial that you do. That dream job he fought so hard to get won’t last forever around forever – and neither is the paycheck. In fact, if he gets hurt and needs long-term care, or god forbid becomes disabled and loses his ability to earn a paycheck, that garage full of expensive toys is going bye-bye without a little planning ahead.
CYA: Cover Your Assets (and loved ones!)
Don’t send your kid out into the world with no concept of what’s really under the hood when it comes to planning for unexpected injuries that might put him in the pit for a while. Long-term disability coverage may not be as sexy as a muscle car with a jet ski hooked up to it, but it sure will provide peace of mind someday when his responsibilities include kids and a mortgage.