The Wall Street Journal recently reported on an extensive study of teenagers and their odds of being in poverty. The stats were pretty depressing, but the way out was also quite impressive and easy.
No matter what background, ethnicity, poverty growing up, etc. the odds of any teenagers getting into, or staying, in poverty are less than six percent if they just do three things:
Finish high school
Hold a full-time job
Don’t marry or have a kid until after age 21
That doesn’t seem so hard. If that’s true, the odds are more than 94% that your teenager will have financial success for a lifetime. If any one of these three isn’t done, the odds increase quite quickly, because each have a significant ramification on their income and lifestyle.
These three basic things really are incredibly important for any teenager to know – and to carry through on.
Step two would be how to now become financially successful. That also isn’t that hard to do. In the Money Tools book is a two page chapter on how to make your teenager a millionaire. In short: Save $9,300 by the time you’re 21 and invest it. The money will double every seven or eight years until they’re ready for retirement. At that point, it’ll be over one million dollars without saving another dime.
The challenge for parents or grandparents is that their kids or grandkids don’t listen to them. Yes, it’s true – I hear that over and over again. It doesn’t help that 80% of parents don’t talk to their kids about money or finances, but that was then – this is now. You can’t live for a better past and you need to remember that you can’t make a horse drink. Lead them to water and remember that, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Go to Mosaic (they have a bunch of signed copies) or to Amazon and get the Money Tools book. When they’re ready, they’ll use it. But don’t wait for the “ah-ha” moment where they tell you that you’ve been right all along and now they’ve seen the light. It won’t happen! You have to know that they’ll learn when they’re ready. All you can do is give them the tools and the information and keep an open line of communication. That way they know they can ask without judgments or lectures.
That’s it! I harp on this every week and maybe get one or two emails a month with positive feedback. If I were to think I should be getting hundreds of emails, I’d be incredibly depresses. It’s my job – and your job – to plant the seeds. It’ll be their job to grow up and to grow those seeds into something beautiful – if they choose to – and when they choose to.