Being a parent is about providing for and loving your children. But it’s also about teaching: teaching them colors when they’re toddlers, not to do drugs when they’re school age and more grown-up things when they’re teenagers. For example, how to balance a checkbook and how to understand life’s risks are things to teach your teens.
I think about this a lot because I live with my soon-to-be-16-year-old daughter, who thinks she knows everything. Much to her dismay, she really doesn’t know everything. This became abundantly clear when she recently asked, “How do I pay my bills? I mean, I just don’t get the whole credit card, debit card thing. And isn’t there an app that can just balance my checkbook?”
Here it was—my window of opportunity to talk to my daughter and for her to want to listen to me. (I think most parents of teens realize this opportunity doesn’t arise very often.)
I proceeded to explain banking and online bill pay and assure her that when she gets a job, she’ll have the opportunity for more hands-on training.
That got me thinking: What other important, yet possibly overlooked, things should parents teach their teens about money, insurance and life in general? Here’s my list:
1.How to pump gas and put air in tires. The last thing anyone wants is to be stranded.
2. Clip coupons for things you buy all the time. But don’t become fanatic about it—because, really, who has time for that?
3. Always clean out your refrigerator and microwave on a regular basis. Because it’s just gross if you don’t.
4. Change your furnace filter every other month. This lets your furnace work more efficiently and helps prevent fires.
5. Thaw your turkey in the fridge for four days before you attempt to cook it. (Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
6. Know where the water shut-off valve is located. You never know when you might find yourself at midnight with a burst under-the-kitchen-sink pipe. (Yes, another mishap yours truly experienced.)
7. Make sure your stuff is covered by insurance. Having an insurance policy means that if something bad happens to your car, house, boat, things in your house, that new engagement ring, whatever, you can get back to normal.
My daughter already knew the last one because I work for an insurance company and had explained to her and her 12-year-old brother very early on the concept of insurance. I always told them that people may complain about paying for insurance, but when something bad happens, it’s their saving grace.
I also told them that you don’t just buy the cheapest policy because insurance is complicated. You want to work with an independent agent who has your back, like my own ERIE Agent has mine. With ERIE, you’re not only getting great coverage and a good price–you’re getting a knowledgeable Agent to help you figure out all your insurance needs.
It was a good talk that I was surprised to realize both my daughter and I enjoyed. Just like teaching your baby to play peek-a-boo, there is joy in schooling your teen in Life 101.
My daughter may never master a turkey dinner, but at least she’ll have the tools to try, and the right insurance protection should something go wrong. (Luckily, that’s one thing I didn’t have to experience firsthand.)