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For good reason, high school students are set on an academically rigorous track towards college. Unfortunately, though, personal finance (a topic they need to understand to survive in life) is rarely taught to them in school.

As a parent, the duty often falls on you. Not sure where to start? Here are some topics that will help start your discussions about financial fitness:

Buying your first car

If your high school student is ready for their first car, then you should point them to makes and models that are known to be reliable, safe and cost-effective. If a car loan can’t be avoided, then turn it into a discussion on borrowing and debt. Even if you’re covering the costs, explain the concept of monthly payments, default, etc.

Responsible credit management

As students turn 18 and head to college, they’ll likely start getting credit card offers. Few young people, however, have the discipline to pay off credit card bills on time, every time. Before they arrive on campus, make sure you introduce them to credit card best practices (the importance of having a payoff plan for every penny that goes on the card), and consider emphasizing that they should only be used in case of emergencies.

Saving for college expenses

Armed with work permits, many of today's high school students have part-time jobs. If money is tight for college in your family, explain that they may have to put some of their income away for higher education. Even if tuition is covered, there are still additional costs such as textbooks, meal plans, parking, and more.

Introduce them to investing

It’s never too early to learn about the stock market. Explain the nuts and bolts of investing, and have them start tracking companies of personal interest to them. Raise the stakes by making hypothetical or even real (if you’re comfortable with it) investments. They might not become financial advisors when they get older, but understanding money on a more advanced level can strengthen their fundamental skills now.

By sharing financial basics with your kids and framing them in terms that are relevant to them, you can set them up for a positive financial future.

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