Speaking the Same Language as Your College Bound Student


Consumers' "Money, I'm Home!" podcast graphic with title "Speaking the same language as your college bound student" with an image of a mother and older teenage daughter (who is dressed in a cap and gown for graduation) sitting on a chair together looking at a laptop and smiling.

When preparing your high school students for life in the real world, it’s important to speak the same language – especially when it comes to teaching the benefits of financial wellness. Listen in to this week’s edition of Money, I’m Home as Lynne is joined by Consumers @Work Manager Scott Dobson to learn some ways you can connect with your students as they prepare for their next steps in life.


0:00:06.6 Lynne Jarman Johnson (LJJ): Money, I’m home. Welcome in. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. From finance to fitness we have it all. And in the next few weeks, you’re going to learn a lot about helping your college-bound student head out the door. And perhaps it’s not college, it might be right into the workplace after graduating from high school, but it is a time of great change. And joining us today is Scott Dobson. Scott, thank you so much. He’s our @Work guru. He is a person that goes to all of our companies and helps build financial education and financial success, and so you’re also doing it with your own kids, so I call you a guru for that, Scott.


0:00:46.0 Scott Dobson (SD): Well, if I help the community and help my own kids, then I get guru status.


0:00:51.2 LJJ: You do. Hey, today we are focusing on something that I think is so important, and it is language, it is the language of finances, and I’ll tell you what, it can be confusing, especially now. There’s so much change going on in the industry of banking and in our credit union world that it’s just like, it blows your minds and I sometimes kind of pause because my kids might text me and I don’t know what they’re talking about, so today [chuckle] you’re going to help us learn.

0:01:20.9 LJJ: Scott, we’re talking about speaking the same language. A high schooler is getting ready to head out the door. You may have already, as a parent, been helping them with their finances, or maybe this is the time that you’re sitting down to chat, but I’ll tell you that conversation is very different than it was, say, even five, 10 years ago. Because there’s already so many new technology apps and things coming up that young people start with and just love, and sometimes it makes parents feel a little out of the loop. So, help us today getting on the same page. Let’s start with something that you and I both know very well, which is also something we love at Consumers to help get the ball rolling, and that’s checking accounts.

0:02:04.5 SD: Checking accounts, yeah, easiest one for us older grown-ups, we’re used to the word checking account, it’s been out there a long time, and if you’ve been in banking personally for a long time you know how a checking account works and you can write checks and balance your statement at the end of the month and all of that good stuff. But if you talk to a 18-year-old today, they don’t want a checking account. They have no interest in that. They want to get a debit card so that they can spend their money. So that’s the very first different is we’re saying, “You need a checking account to manage your money,” and they’re saying, “I need a debit card to be able to access my money.” You’re saying the same thing, but the way they use technology and the way that we’re using cards today makes it much different than checking accounts, and so, yeah, if you use that language, your kids aren’t going to understand you but having a debit card to access their money seems to make a lot of sense.

0:02:53.3 LJJ: And with that debit card, let’s then move into how do they then balance their checkbook. We would say balance your checkbook, that’s just not even in today’s lingo.

0:03:04.5 SD: Well, little history lessons. When I started my banking career, this is what we taught people when they came in was how to balance their checkbook, which was you’d bring in your bank statement from last month and you’d look at all the money you deposited and all the checks that you had written and all the money that you had taken out and you do a bunch of math and you all come out like, “Yep, I have the right amount of money in my account. I have balanced my checkbook for February, and on we go to March.”

0:03:29.5 SD: Today, it works in an entirely different world, you get your debit card, you put money into it, you look at your online banking or mobile banking, you see how much money you have, you look at your next auto payment that’s coming out, and think about when your next paycheck is coming in, and that’s how young people balance their checkbook right now is looking at it live and deciding today do I have enough money or not enough money? We talked to lots of people in the community, I bet you less than 5% of the average grown-up today is balancing their checkbook at the end of the month, they’re mostly using technology to look at where they are and predict where they’re going to be.

0:04:05.2 LJJ: So, when you are looking at your checkbook… Ha! Your account, online and mobile banking, you know the interesting thing to me too, is just how many people now, especially the youth will say, “Well just Venmo me that.” And how does that work for those who don’t have Venmo? If you look that’s real money, and it is coming out of your account or going into your account.

0:04:30.6 SD: Yeah, Venmo is interesting, and there’s other companies that kind of do the same thing, but really they’re a third party and what you do, if you’re a member of Consumers Credit Union, and you want to Venmo money to someone else, go to the Venmo app and you connect that Venmo to your checking account here at the credit union, and then you can send money to anyone else, and if they don’t have a Venmo account, they can also log in and set up with their financial institution and the money can be deposited there, so when you Venmo someone money, you’re asking your financial institution to take money, give it to Venmo, Venmo sends it to someone else, and then that someone else can either have that money put into their financial institution so that they can use it or leave it out in the Venmo world, if they want to send it somewhere else.

0:05:20.5 SD: You cannot go to the Venmo office and knock on the door and get your money, it’s just a digital world, and it does complicate things, so you could use the same… We have the same technology, just transferring, using our online tools, so you can do the same thing with your kids and take Venmo out of the equation, especially if you both have Consumers accounts, makes it very transparent to see how you’re interacting with your kid and how money’s moving back and forth.

0:05:45.3 LJJ: And how important, Scott, is it that you just mentioned there’s a lot of people that just aren’t even balancing at the end of the month, so all of a sudden if you’ve got… You’re doing Venmo, or you’re doing PayPal or this person does a different sort of payment option, how important is it to keep track of it, and is that why it’s important to do online banking to look at what’s really going on?

0:06:10.2 SD: Yes, you need to understand, with all accounts, let’s call it the debit or credit account, you’re responsible for taking care of your account, making sure you’re not spending more money than you have in there, there are tools to help you understand where you are in the world. If you’re not balancing every dollar in your checking account, the easy way to do that with Consumers is alerts, it’s super cool and you can set up alert that sends you a text if you buy something at the store. It shoots you an alert, if your balance in your account goes below whatever threshold is important to you, so if you’re a kid and you’re like, “Man, if my account gets below $100, I’d like to know so that I don’t go spend that.” You can absolutely do that.

0:06:51.2 SD: So, because you’re not going in and writing down and doing math and balancing, you can let technology help you and Consumers will say to you, “Hey, you just spent money. Hey, a big deposit just went into your accounts. Hey, a big withdrawal just came out. You have an automatic payment that’s going to come out this Friday, just to let you know.” So, you can replace doing all the balancing and hand-writing paperwork with just setting up our technology and letting it tell you when something significant is happening. Most people that I know, especially young people, aren’t very concerned with their checking account balance or their debit card balance down to the last penny, they just kind of want to know, “Yep, I’ve got a few hundred dollars in there,” or, “I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel, I better not go buy a Mountain Dew with my debit card.” And the alert system sets it up and you can be reactive, you don’t have to pay attention all the time. The system will come tell you when to pay attention.

0:07:45.0 LJJ: Scott, how important is it as our high schoolers are heading out into the world to have that open conversation, whether it be with parents or a trusted friend who is knowledgeable in finances, so that there’s not that hidden, “I just don’t want to talk about money,” and all of a sudden, you start rolling down a hill where you’re not able to pay your bills, but yet you don’t want to tell anybody. How important is that for a student to start off to say, “Look at… This is all about open communication?”

0:08:20.4 SD: Absolutely. I think the best way to do it, if you’re with your kid for one more summer before they take off – now is the time to do it in real life. We talk about it when we go out to dinner. And I put it, I’m paying for it on my credit card, I’m like, “Am I paying for the dinner right now?” I also have a freshman in high school, so I’m doing the same things with him right now, I’m like, “I’m not paying for this right now, how do I know if I can afford to do this? Should we be going out to dinner? How do you think about money when you’re buying stuff?” I think just real world interactions, when you’re hanging out with your kids is the best way to do it and say, “Boy, it’s not a good idea to spend this right now, we should think about it.” Do you know, if you don’t have any money coming in, should you have any extra money going out? The answer’s no, but sometimes you really have to think about that if you’re 19 years old and your friend gets a bunch of money from his parents and you’re 19 and don’t get any money from your parents, it could feel unfair and you don’t live in a fair world, which is unfortunately true, and we have to learn to live around that.

0:09:19.1 SD: So, I think real life learning and being honest with your kids about your own finances and saying… You know, my son wants me to buy a Tesla really badly, and I’m honest with him and say, “It doesn’t fit into our plans right now, you have to save money and understand what your finances are, you can’t always do exactly what you want, when you want.” But I think just living those life lessons, and every time a financial question comes up, talk about it, people are afraid to tell their kids, “We can’t afford this,” when really… I say it’s not that we can’t afford it, we can afford one of anything, it might just cost us something else. If you buy a new car today, you can’t buy another new car tomorrow, so it’s just that opportunity cost and really talk about how interactions work.

0:10:04.6 SD: If you’re an adult and you’re doing financially well and you use your credit card for everything, your kids see you using your credit card for everything, they never see you pay the balance at the end of the month, and they get the idea that credit cards are great and wonderful. And you just use them to buy stuff and it’s all magic, so you need to teach them that opposite lesson of using a debit card, getting the alert on your phone, seeing your checking account balance go down immediately and realizing you’re not as rich as you were 10 minutes ago is a much better lesson for kids than seeing them use your credit card and pretending like it’s money from heaven, which is what it seems like to a 14-year-old kid watching you use your credit card all the time.

0:10:43.4 LJJ: Scott, thank you so much. We are going to be focusing on many, many topics that focus on youth as they are heading out into the real world, so we appreciate it, but I love the thought of making sure we’re speaking the same language with our kids, but also being transparent about money. So, thanks so much for that today.

0:11:03.9 SD: Sure, my pleasure.

0:11:06.5 LJJ: Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you, Jake Esselink, for your production skills and we’ll join you next week with some more money saving tips and money success tips for those heading into the real world.


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