While state education departments make sure certain subjects are taught in school, few states require students to study a subject they’ll need in life. In fact, only 17 states offer courses related to personal finance.1
If you're like many young adults searching for the perfect father's day gift, you already know that money management is necessary - even if it's not always intuitive or taught. From large student loans to finding your first apartment, young adults are hit with a number of important yet unfamiliar financial challenges right off the bat. As a result, it’s possible you still depend on your parents for a number of financial obligations - car insurance, phone bills, streaming services, rent, etc.
If you’re looking for a unique gift to give your dad (or a father figure in your life) this Father’s Day, consider finding a few ways in which to reduce your financial dependence. Here’s how you can start.
Money In, Money Out
Around 64 percent of Americans believe that young adults should be financially independent of their parents by age 22. But in reality, only 24 percent of young adults are financially independent by that age.2
While you may be a ways away from total independence, there are things every young adult can do now to understand their financial lives better. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to start keeping track of how much money is coming in every month and how much is going out. Understanding what you earn versus what you spend is a necessary first step towards establishing a budget.
Count all income sources such as stipends from school, income from a job or money from your parents. Next, list your recurring expenses such as rent, utilities, internet, streaming services, phone bill, groceries and any other consistent monthly expenses. Now, compare the two. Are you spending more than you’re earning? That means you’ll need to either increase your income each month or reduce your spending. If you’re spending less than you’re earning, what are you doing with the leftover amount each month? Could you be putting it towards a bill your parents are paying for you? Or maybe it could be used to pad (or start) your emergency savings or an IRA.
Establish Automation (Where Possible)
A great advantage you have is the ability to leverage technology when it comes to money management. If you have a credit card, utilities or other recurring expenses, it’s likely you have the option to establish automatic payments. Doing so can take the hassle out of paying your bills manually, while also eliminating the possibility of missing a payment. Missed payments can accrue interest or incur penalties, both of which can negatively impact your financial standings.
In addition to bill paying, you may have the option to set up automatic deposits into a savings account or retirement savings account. When you take advantage of automated savings, it takes potential hesitation or forgetfulness out of the process. After a while, you may even forget money is being diverted to a savings account. This can be an effective tool in helping you reach specific savings goals without requiring much effort on your part.
Dedicate Time to Growing Your Financial Literacy
The financial world can be overwhelming and complicated, meaning it’ll take time and dedication to gain a better understanding. But growing your financial knowledge is a critical component to increasing your financial independence. The more you know about where your money is going, how much you should be saving and what may be worthwhile investments, the more you can maintain control over your financial life.
For now, start small. If you have a credit card, review its terms and conditions. Understand when you may be on the hook for paying interest, how much interest is and what you can do to avoid it. If you have a full-time job, familiarize yourself with any benefits they offer - a 401(k) plan or Health Savings Account, for example. Not taking advantage of employer-sponsored benefits just because you don’t understand them is simply leaving money on the table.
The more you dedicate to increasing your financial literacy, the closer you may be to finding total financial freedom from your parents or guardians.
This Father’s Day, you may find that the best gift to give a father in your life is the gift of reduced financial dependence. Of course, finding financial freedom is an ongoing process and won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, he may enjoy a nice cologne, dinner at his favorite restaurant or a monthly subscription box. If you find that growing your financial independence is a bigger challenge than anticipated, working with a trusted financial partner may be necessary.