Money Expert Bobbi Rebell: How To Set Your Older Kids Up for Financial Success
The Financially Savvy Female had the opportunity to chat with Bobbi Rebell, author of “Launching Financial Grownups” and personal finance expert at Tally. Here, we chat with Rebell about how mothers of older and adult children can help their kids get on strong financial footing without putting their own finances at risk.
How can mothers of older teens and young adults start to financially separate themselves from their kids in a way that doesn’t seem jarring for either party?
The first step is to adjust your approach, and accept that you are no longer parenting a young child that you can influence and/or motivate by using strategies like rewards or punishment. Your goal is to get your child to be independent, so that means you need to get them to a place where you are both making that choice. That starts with listening to them and how they feel about their financial ties to their parents. Tune in to what will motivate them to take ownership of their finances, and work in alignment with them, rather than against them. Don’t be afraid to take small steps as they adjust. Separation is often more about mindset and letting go of their childhood and that security of being taken care of and protected. Patience is key. That said, be ready with a reasonable schedule of shifting financial responsibilities for when the time is right.
What financial lessons should parents aim to instill in their older children so that they can thrive as adults?
Finding solutions for financial challenges that may not be their choice or fault is a very grownup challenge all adults face at some point in time. For example, right now we are seeing high inflation. It is absolutely not their fault that their bills may have gone up more than their income. That said, it is their responsibility to find a way to re-adjust their budget to make it work. You can help them find solutions, as long as a check from you is not the solution.
Another big lesson is that even though they may think people in their life, including their friends, and likely even their parents, are never feeling financially stressed or challenged, that is likely not true. They should not have shame if they have anxiety or concerns tied to money. There is a lot of subtle peer pressure to keep up, but in reality, most of the people in their life are having similar experiences. It is normal and they should feel comfortable coming to you to work through their problems, knowing you will always be there to help them find their own solutions.
How can parents find the balance between supporting their children’s needs and ensuring that they have a financially secure future themselves?
As hard as it may be, transparency can really help as kids get older. It has to be OK to say, for example, that at a certain point you are going to prioritize your own financial security — and let them know that is a gift to THEM. That’s because the only thing worse than not being financially secure as a young adult is having to financially support your aging parents. It’s more common than you might think. If you explain that to your kids, they will see things very differently and focus more on their own independence and on making sure you do too!
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Jaime Catmull contributed to the reporting for this article.