Across the country, an annual ritual is in full swing: Parents releasing their young into the real world -- the accredited, admission-based, loosely supervised, GPA-focused, all-nighter-pulling college version of the real world, that is.
For most teenagers (they are technically still teens), this is the first time they will face bonafide adult situations on their own.
So, parents of soon-to-be-minted co-eds, have you had "the talk"? You know, that awkward discussion about protection, safety, responsibility, and the long-term consequences of their young-adult actions?
You know we're talking about money stuff, right?
Personal Finances 101: Oof, that's gonna leave a mark
Bills, budgets, lines of credit -- pick your poison. In the hands of lightweights, these things can turn into a potent cocktail setting off a financial hangover that can linger for years.
Overindulgence, abuse, cluelessness … remember the first time you were left to manage your money without a babysitter? Actually, please share! Reminisce in the comments section below. (Seriously, it's been long enough that we can all laugh uncomfortably at our own youthful financial indiscretions, right?)
Sadly, not much has changed since a lot of us whiffed on Personal Finances 101: Mastering common money tasks is still not taught in most schools. Even if not completely absent from the curriculum, practical hands-on financial lessons are either glossed over or crammed into a couple of rote exercises in an economics class.
That leaves kids these days learning money lessons the old-fashioned -- and very expensive -- way: At the school of hard knocks.
How to kick off "the talk"
Unless you want to be The Bank of Mom and Dad forever, have the "birds and bees" money talk before it's too late.
Don't worry if you feel ill-equipped to school your offspring about this stuff. You probably know more than you think you do, and you definitely know more about managing money than they do.
Counter eye rolling and the glazed stare of indifference with a few anecdotes about how boneheaded you (or any relative not within earshot of the discussion) were when first encountering all this stuff. 'Fess up to your youthful overindulgences. Cop to the pizzas you put on plastic that, with interest, ended up costing $1,000. In other words, be the cautionary tale.
Attention students (and parents): Money 101 is in session
While your kids set off to enrich their minds, we want to make sure they aren't bankrupting their futures (or The Bank of Mom and Dad, for that matter). We're covering the essential money lessons that will help them ace college finances.
Get started with these topics. And please share with us in the comments section what money lessons you wish you had learned before you were handed the keys to your financial future.
- Earth to Freshmen: It's Either Budget or Flip Burgers : Stop making that face. It's either learn to budget or beef up your burger flipping skills.
- How to Survive College With No Credit Regrets : No more easy plastic, kiddos! Still, there are still plenty of ways to do stuff you'll regret for years to come.
- Road Rules for College Car Insurance : Drive like a grandma, get good grades, and other ways to save on car insurance premiums.
Fool.com's Dayana Yochim graduated college (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) with only minor financial bruising, thanks to in-state tuition and the lack of plastic in her wallet. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.