Teaching Financial Independence to the Next Generation

While some young adults know how to make money, they might not know how to manage it. Parents still usually control, or have a hand in controlling, their children’s personal and even their business finances. Protecting a grown child’s money may seem natural but with education costs, spiking home costs, not to mention rising loan and credit card debt, transitioning control might be the best idea.

“What is new is the increasing number of young adults unable to succeed financially on their own,” said John Gallo, an estate-planning attorney speaking with the Associated Press. “Parents have not been responding to those increased social factors by teaching their kids how to manage money.” Gallo co-authored “The Financially Intelligent Parent” and “Silver Spoon Kids” with his wife Eileen.

Involvement by both the parent and child is ideal in the sometimes complex decisions to be made that can mark younger lives into the future. Eileen Gallo speaking with the Associated Press said, “If parents can think of it in terms of a process, not a cutoff, it can help.” She is a licensed psychotherapist.

“The type of people who make wealth like to make decisions themselves, and want to make decisions for their kids,” said Tom Rogerson, senior director for Mellon Private Wealth Management speaking with the Associated Press. “They may make better decisions for the money, but they leave their kids less capable and confident to make decisions themselves.”

Teaching independence and setting financial goals are part of setting boundaries. Establishing clear terms for possible parental loans will help define repayment methods or systems and savings values. Understanding investments are important as well.

One problem seen by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) involves taking advantage of educational tax breaks. The GAO looked at 1.8 million tax returns targeting those taking tax breaks and found that about one in four taxpayers failed to take an allowable educational tax break or tuition deduction. Taking either of these deductions might have reduced their tax bill by an average of $169 while ten percent of that group might have reduced their tax bills $500 or more.

Rules limit the number of tax breaks that a parent or student may take in a tax year, leaving them to ferret out information and understand the tax laws, apply the laws correctly as well as keeping tax records. Making the best choice of the options offered is not always easy or correct.

The Treasury Department has prompted the Congress to simplify the system of educational tax system breaks. In fact, a presidential panel is currently developing recommendations for Congress concerning the simplification for the tax code, including tax credits and deductions. The panel is expected to present their recommendations in September.

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