In my former career as an intensive caseworker and as a counselor at a group home, one of my duties was to teach my clients about independent living skills. Although most of the young people with whom I worked were in their teen years, I do not believe it is ever too early to start educating children or teens about skills that they will need to have in order to make it out on their own. Here are some tips that I utilize with my own children and encourage you to try with yours as well.
1. Pay your children a reasonable allowance for chores and other duties that they perform. The topic of allowances can be a controversial subject in some circles, but from this author’s point of view, paying children an allowance is a wonderful way to teach them the value of money as well as reward them for a job well done. As adults, we are paid to perform the jobs that we do, so why should children not receive the same treatment? Of course, make sure that the allowance is a reasonable amount and that your children know that they will only receive their allowances if they complete the assigned chores or duties.
2. Help your children plan a budget. Helping your children make a plan for how their allowance will be spent is an excellent way to prepare children for developing a budget once they have a place of their own. In this author’s home, the first thing for which her children budget money is how much they intend to give to the church. The remainder of the money is divided between money for saving to use at a later time and the amount needed to purchase a desired item. As children get older, reach driving age, and get a job outside of the home, assist them in planning a budget that will allow for gas money, car expenses, savings, and money to be spent on desired items.
Another suggestion is to include children in the planning of the family budget. This will allow children to get a realistic portrayal of how much money that is needed in order to have and maintain one’s own place.
3. Help your children to obtain checking and savings accounts when they reach the appropriate age. Learning to write checks and to maintain a checking account will help children to keep better track of their money as well as hone those addition and subtraction skills. Having their money to be saved in a savings account will help your children to receive interest on that amount as well as it will help them to keep from spending it on a frivolous whim.
4. Take your children to view an apartment and let them talk with the office manager about rent, cost of utilities, and other such expenses. This experience will help children to understand what all is involved in getting a place to live as well as the costs that come with getting a place of one’s own. Too, the office manager can also provide information on what behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate for living in the apartment community.
5. Have your children help you plan a grocery list and take them shopping with you. This activity will get your children used to making a grocery list and will enable them to know how much groceries cost. If you shop at more than one store, this adventure will allow your children to learn how to shop comparatively and choose the best value on groceries.
6. Have children cook with you. All of my children love to cook, and as a result, we are always trying to make new recipes. If you allow your child to help with cooking and even make some edible delicacies on his or her own, he or she will learn how to prepare food for himself or herself once he or she has a place of his or her own. Too, your child’s future spouse will thank you for helping them to obtain this knowledge as well.
7. Teach children basic first aid or have them take a first aid class through the American Red Cross. Possessing knowledge of first aid is important for children and adults alike. It is especially important for children who are living independently. Knowing what to do in the case of an emergency could be the difference between life and death for self or others.