Listen to Your Parents

Scoulding David Pacey flickr CreativeCommonsLicenseWe hear a lot of “Don’ts” from our parents in our early years. Don’t touch the stove; don’t eat that candy before dinner; don’t run off before telling me where you’re going.

We learn from those experiences. When we don’t listen, and we touch the burner, our hand blisters for two weeks and scars in the shape of Florida; we get sick and miss a soccer game from eating too many tootsie rolls; we feel the brief panic that comes from not being able to find Mom and Dad in a crowded space, when we’re all alone.  From then on, we’re the perfect child…until the next temptation comes along.

But as we get older, we tend not to trust the advice of our tragically uncool elders. College is a free-for-all, and coming out of it, nobody wants to admit that they might need help – especially from dear old Mom and Dad.

It’s time to give it up. You’re probably going to learn very quickly that you, in fact, do not know everything. And when those credit card bills come knocking from the card you opened on a whim and then promptly forgot about, your parents are exactly who you should turn to. Before you let yourself get burnt, swallow that independent-child pride and ask for some much needed help.

Asking for Advice

Now that you understand the basics of investment, stock market specifics and how to admit that you still don’t know everything to you parents, the next step is figuring out what to ask. Focus on three simple questions:

  1. What did you do with your money?
  2. What would you change?
  3. Will you help me save?

These three questions capitalize on the knowledge that your parents already have, which is essential to advice on investments. What they don’t know, a simple Google search or check in on this blog can answer. And what they do can be very helpful to your specific needs and future as a pro-investor.

Obviously, depending on your parent’s financial literacies and experiences, the answers will vary. For some, you might hear about a mutual fund that saved the family back in the ’08 stock crash. For others, you’ll hear of thousand dollar losses that have led to a very conservative portfolio and modest retirement fund. There are lessons to be learned from all, so make sure you listen.

The last question is the most important. For some, “help” can be seen as paying off a mountain of credit card debt in order to improve your credit score and not incurring crazy interest while making payoffs to your parents rather than to a collection company. For others, it can be a tax break while remaining a dependent or an ACA-perk as an insurance beneficiary.  Even so, the answer to this question is not necessarily monetary in value: it can mean more accountability to save rather than spend, or a look at a spreadsheet budget for errors in calculations on student loan principals or grocery trip costs. At the very least, it’s training you to ask for help when you need it, which is an important part of growing up, of investing, and of maintaining your relationship with your mom and dad. An all around win.