I lost my way with money when I was a young adult.  I racked up credit card debt and was on my way to a bleak financial future.  Having a decent paying job totally went to my head and I started spending.  Fortunately it didn’t take me long to see that how I was living was unsustainable, but wouldn’t it have been nice to not have gone down that rabbit hole at all?

The gift of financial responsibility is one of the greatest you can give a young person.  My daughter’s only 3 (it’s never too early), but these gifts would be well suited to teens and young adults who want to start out on the right foot from the get go.

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman – $11

News flash, I think Suze Orman is fabulous.  I love her plain English explanations of a complex subject like finance and her no-nonsense approach.  This book is great for a young person just starting out, or who may have already made some bad choices.  She talks about credit scores and credit cards, saving money and making money, plus student loans.  It’s a complete overview of what today’s young people are facing when it comes to their money.

You Need a Budget – $60

This easy to follow program follows 4 simple rules to budgeting: Give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, Roll with the punches, and Live on last month’s income.  It uses a zero-based budgeting system so that you can only budget what you have.  It also works for those with irregular incomes, like so many young adults have.  Mint is another option for budgeting software (and it’s free), but YNAB does a better job of holding its users to a budget.

Dave Ramsey’s Finance Course – $120 (depending on the class)

Dave Ramsey is a household name for a reason.  His programs make sense and they work!  He’s adapted his course for high schoolers and you can get the home school version for about $120.  No worries if you’re not a home schooler, it’s a comprehensive curriculum that you can follow.  You might even learn a few things along the way!  For older students any of the Dave Ramsey classes are recommended by many.  Dave is the champion of the envelope system, using cash, and he brings an element of spirituality to his courses.

A Roth IRA with a Deposit – any amount depending on your financial institution

Most people plan for and contribute money to their kids (or grandkids) college fund, but hardly anyone contributes to their child’s retirement fund.  While I wouldn’t recommend funding your child’s retirement in the long-term – you take care of your retirement, let her take care of hers – setting up a Roth IRA for her can set her up for lifetime saving success.

Financial Planner – varies by area and experience

For a recent grad earning his first paycheck a sit-down with a certified financial planner.  A CFP can help them with investments, retirement accounts, credit counseling, budgeting and more.

Above all, talk with your kids about money.  An open conversation can do more than any book or program!

How do you talk to your kids about money?

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