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Financial Literacy

5 Skills Your Teen Will Need for the Real World

As the parent of a teen, you might feel overwhelmed at the thought of them leaving the nest and going out into the real world. You may have a lot of questions: Will they be happy? Will they make friends with good people? When they’re doing laundry, will they remember to separate the lights from the darks? (Let’s face it. The answer to that last one is probably no.)

But one of the biggest questions of all is: Will my teen have all the life skills they need to survive and thrive on their own? Getting them ready for adulthood is a big job—and way too often, important personal finance and career skills just aren’t taught in middle and high school. If that’s the case for your teen, don’t stress—there are plenty of practical steps you can take to help them succeed now (and for the rest of their lives). Here are five important skills your teen will need out there in the real world—and how you can help them learn those skills—so they’re ready for whatever comes their way!

1. Investing

Most teens think they don’t need to learn how to invest until way later—and some don’t even know what investing is. Let’s be real: “Open a Roth IRA” probably isn’t high on your teen’s to-do list. But now is actually the best time for them to start learning how to build wealth the right way—so they can end up with a hefty retirement fund and the freedom that comes with it.

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Things like IRAs, 401(k)s, compound interest and growth stock mutual funds might sound intimidating, but when they’re explained in simple terms, your teen will love knowing that a little bit of smart saving now will have a huge payoff in the long run. Try our compound interest calculator that will do the calculations for you!

2. Understanding Insurance

Insurance—another fun one, right? Your teen might not need insurance right now, but once they start driving their own car, renting their own apartment, and hitting other adulting milestones, they’ll definitely need to know it can protect them. In the real world, you have to expect the unexpected!

When teens understand which kinds of insurance they’ll need and which kinds to stay far, far away from (whole life insurance, we’re looking at you), you can rest easy knowing they’re informed and equipped. And they’ll feel better having that safety net if they need it.

3. Handling Conflict

No one really likes conflict, but it’s just part of life. Everyone has to deal with it, so we might as well learn how to deal with it in a healthy and productive way! When teens learn and practice this skill, it helps them face conflict instead of being afraid of it—and their personal and professional lives will benefit as a result.

Your teen (and every up-and-coming or current adult) should learn these steps for recognizing and resolving conflict:

  • Take responsibility. Don’t hide from problems.
  • Identify mistakes. If you know you made one, be proactive about owning up to it.
  • Stay calm. Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment and say something you’ll regret later.
  • Listen. Pay attention to the other person’s feelings.
  • Commit to resolution. Do everything you can, within reason, to make the situation right.
  • Follow up. Check back in to make sure everything’s truly resolved.
  • Develop good policies. In business and in life, be clear about your own values and boundaries.

Whether they’re running a business, leading a group project, or just navigating relationships, your teen will be glad they learned how to handle stressful situations with confidence.

4. Saying No to Loans

Going into debt is a way-too-common money mistake that seriously holds you back in life and stops you from reaching your goals. That’s why teens need to learn as early as possible how to steer clear of every kind of debt—that includes credit card debt, car payments and (especially) student loan debt.

Your teen might feel like there’s no way they could ever pay cash for college, but trust us: It can be done! When they learn practical ways to cash-flow their degree—like finding the right scholarships, filling out the FAFSA, going to a public in-state school instead of a private university, and cutting back on living expenses—they’ll be able to say no to loans for good and graduate without anything weighing them down.

5. Creating a Resumé

Never underestimate the power of a good resumé! Your teen will need resumé-building skills throughout their life—not just in the job market but also for college, internships and all kinds of other applications. If they want to do work they’re excited about, they need to know how to showcase their strengths and market themselves in a way that’s clear and professional.

They can do that with just a few easy steps like keeping their resumé to one page in length, writing a short personal statement at the top that showcases their skills and passions, including reliable references, and using easy-to-read formatting without any crazy fonts or designs (and definitely no clip art). Simple is always best!

Parents, you’re already doing a great job preparing your teens for life after leaving home. But if your teen isn’t learning this stuff in school and you need some extra help covering all the bases, they can learn all these skills (and more!) in the Foundations Self-Study courses. With individual courses geared toward entrepreneurship, personal finance, career readiness and college prep, your teen can learn everything they need to know to be ready for the real world—on their own time and from the comfort of their couch. And the best part? All the lessons are planned out, fully digital and auto-graded so you don’t have to do a thing except cheer them on!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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