How to Teach an Adult to Be Responsible With Money

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Teaching the vaue of money management to an adult can be challenging.
Teaching the vaue of money management to an adult can be challenging. (Image: Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Research and personal experience should tell you that it is far easier to teach children than adults. Whether it is teaching computer skills or typing, training an adult can be a significant challenge. Teaching an adult about money management and responsibility can be even more challenging because the subject is personal to most people. There are several things you can do that will help an adult become more responsible.

Research adult education topics such as literacy to learn triggers to learning for adults. Understand the complexities of teaching an adult new habits and discuss the topic with experienced continuing education teachers.

Survey the adult to see what he knows about money. Ask about such topics as figuring a checking account balance, understanding interest and the time value of money and ask open-ended questions such as "Tell me about how you manage your money now." Note the responses and tie your curriculum first to obvious gaps in knowledge.

Sell the student on the benefits of managing money wisely. Adults can learn facts but changing their behavior requires that they can make application of the knowledge they learn to their lives.

Demonstrate the value of time and tax savings using retirement accounts by giving an example that is likely attainable. For example, show on a chart what saving only $100 a month in a retirement account making 8 percent interest over 20 years will accumulate to $58,902, or enough to purchase a small house. Help him find an item he would like to purchase such as a home or a date he would like to retire so he has a tangible target to motivate him.

Require the student to write every penny they spend for one full month in a diary. Help him categorize every expense into groups so he can see exactly where his money is going and where he can reduce expenses.

Help him discover what triggers irresponsible spending and replace the trigger with a positive, inexpensive replacement activity. For example, if stress is a trigger that makes him want to spend $50 at a bar, have him consider replacing that expense with an exercise such as kickboxing to relieve the stress. He will save $50 and will likely be healthier because of the activity.

Help him chart out a basic budget that lists all estimated expenses and income. Remind him of the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly where your money will be spent and knowing that you can pay your bills. Dave Ramsey, renowned financial planning trainer, recommends first saving $1,000 for emergency expenses that would typically blow a monthly budget, such as car or appliance repairs.

Help him find enough room in his budget, if possible, to save the $100 a month. Help him see the tangible benefit by reminding him of the reward he seeks with the funds. For many adults who have not managed money wisely, the large number that represents the savings is harder to grasp than a tangible item such as owning a home or being retired.

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