10 Things to Teach Your Teen Before They Move Out

Are you sure your older teen understands what to know before moving out of your house? Before you say, “Yes, of course,” take a moment to think more about the question. Many parents assume their teenage kids going off to college or the “real world” understand what to know before moving out. But they quickly find out they don’t.

How does the epiphany come? Usually through rapid-fire texts asking how to take care of their clothing or make ends meet when the paycheck runs out. And you know who’s frequently left holding the bag? You. After all, you’re the one they trust the most. That’s understandable.

The only way to be sure that your child figures out what to know before moving out is to teach them a few key elements of adulting. Below are ten of the biggies that your teen deserves to find out about from you.

How to Buy a Car

Don’t neglect this one, even if you aren’t sure your older child has any inkling of getting a car. You never know when they’ll eagerly Facetime you from a used Ford dealership raving about the Mustang they just test-drove that’s “only” thousands more than they could possibly save in a year.

Understanding the best way to evaluate a car and to negotiate buying one is one of those prime things on the “what to know before moving out” checklist. You may even want to sit down with your child and talk about the mistakes you made when purchasing your first vehicle. For instance, did you forget to take it to an objective mechanic to get a second opinion on its viability and value? Were you late on your payments, only to get a call from a debt collection agency? Openly discussing your stumbles will help your teen get a better sense of how not to make foreseeable gaffes.

When you’re talking about purchasing a car, discuss loans, too. While some used cars can be bought outright, many require you to get a loan unless you have a cash stash hiding somewhere. Loans might be tough to get, especially for a teen without any kind of credit. In other words, you could wind up being asked to co-sign. Again, you should know without a shadow of a doubt that your teen understands the responsibility of buying, owning, repairing, and maintaining a car before ever including yourself on any loan or purchase paperwork.

How to Live Debt-Free, or Acquire Only Appropriate Debt

When it comes to what to know before moving out, your teen should have a basic understanding of money management. Unfortunately, many adults don’t have a good financial understanding. That may be partially why as many as 81.5% of millennial men and women carry some type of debt.

This isn’t to say that all debt is bad. Sometimes, debt makes sense. When you buy a house, you go into debt, but you also give yourself the opportunity to acquire equity in the real estate. Similarly, you may start a business and be in debt at first. But generally speaking, debt isn’t something you want to experience.

One of the best ways for your child to learn how to keep bill collectors at bay is to promote the idea of budgeting. Being able to budget will save your teen from overspending. It will also allow your budding adult to get a better sense of where money goes. Many people spend too much on entertainment, food, and even rent. Having a budget on paper or in a spreadsheet eliminates the chances that your teen will cry, “I didn’t realize I didn’t have enough money to last the month!”

To be sure, you might want to practice smart money managing yourself. That way, you can illustrate good fiscal habits. Even if you haven’t been too great about saving your dollars, you’re never too mature to start. In fact, you’ll wish your parents had thought of this before you moved out yourself.

How to Maintain a Car

This is another car-related “what to know before moving out” time: maintenance. However, the idea of maintaining any asset from a truck to a house makes sense.

Kids often don’t realize that they have to engage in car maintenance. Or, they don’t really think about how much regular maintenance like an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles will cost. The same holds true with the maintenance of a new home, which can often cost several thousand a year just to keep in decent condition.

Now, your teen might be gifted in the auto tech industry. That’s a huge asset for anyone because it means not having to pay a mechanic to do the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, most people end up going to automotive shops and dealerships to get the maintenance they need. Make sure your teen understands that part of what to know before moving out is how much money to put aside for regular maintenance and unexpected repairs.

As a quick side note, car registration and insurance might not fall in the category of car maintenance, yet it’s nonetheless essential. You’ll want your teen to not only get good insurance but to set aside the funds to pay off the premiums monthly, quarterly, or annually.

How to Make Appointments

Have you been making your teen’s medical appointments every year? It’s time to stop once your teen reaches the age of 18. Teens need to understand how to contact their primary care physician or discuss their health needs with a dentist.

If it seems like this is a silly “what to know before moving out” topic, rest assured that it’s not. What if your teen feels so uncomfortable finding healthcare that he or she never gets treated or seen? That’s not good for anyone’s health, especially a young person starting out in college or the working world.

Appointments aren’t hard to make, of course. They just require a little bit of planning. Be sure to tell your child to keep appointments, too. Far too many patients set up visits only to cancel them at the last minute. Not only can that be financially costly, particularly if the doctor levies a fee for not showing up, but it can postpone diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic conditions.

How to Do Laundry, Clean a Bathroom, and Scrub Dishes

Yes, you might be saying, “Seriously? I have to teach this?” Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. If you’ve made your child learn these things already as part of what to know before moving out, go to the head of the class. However, you can be sure that lots of teens have no clue how to scour a bathtub, effectively pre-treat a t-shirt stain, or figure out how to get their dishes spotless and sanitized.

Spend a little time with your teenager before the “fly the coop” moment. Have them work side-by-side with you and tell them about these seemingly mundane tasks. Make them apply a bit of elbow grease and praise them when they get the job done right. Consider this a moment for the two of you to bond.

Have a dishwasher? Do dishes by hand at least a few times a week for a few weeks. Your teen will get the hang of how easy it is to be tidy. While you’re at it, you might want to mention your favorite detergents, scrubs, cleansers, and soaps to use. That way, your teen will know what to buy at the store.

How to Maintain a Home

Eventually, your older child will move away and have a home. Whether it’s rented or owned, the home will need continuous maintenance. And that won’t happen without some forethought and pragmatic action.

What should be maintained in the average home? The HVAC system, for one. Heating and cooling equipment needs to be evaluated and monitored at least twice annually. Usually, the checkups are fairly routine and may cost a few hundred dollars each. Nevertheless, they ward off the need for bigger, pricier repairs down the road.

Another item that needs to be maintained is any type of plumbing. Think toilets, showers, and sinks. Pipes, even copper ones, will eventually fail. Knowing when to call a plumbing services provider is important. Often, plumbing concerns aren’t DIY, fixer-upper issues. Plus, neglecting leaks and dripping can cause health issues like toxic mold buildup.

Finally, a home’s roof must always be maintained. The good news? Roofs tend to last for around 30 years if they’re kept in tip-top shape. The bad news? When they need to be replaced, it’s not an inexpensive prospect. That’s why so many first-time homeowners try to find houses that have newer roofs. Yes, they cost more to buy, but they can offer a decade or more of wiggle room before a new roof is needed.

How to Handle a Car Accident

As a parent, you don’t want your child to ever be in a car crash. Accidents happen every day, though. Eventually, your teen could get involved in a wreck, whether it’s small or serious. In that case, your teen will be glad you mentioned the occasion when you were explaining what to know before moving out.

In any car accident situation, both drivers should stay at the scene. They need to call the police, which may be required in some states. They should also avail themselves of medical attention, if desired, at the site or at the nearest urgent care facility. Drivers are required to exchange some information, such as their names, telephone numbers, and insurance information, with the police. From that point, the police will come up with an incident report.

Here’s the bigger question: When is the right time to call one of those auto accident lawyer service firms you see advertised on billboards along the highway? In general, legal help isn’t needed unless your teen is seriously injured in an accident and cannot get damages from the appropriate insurance provider or the at-fault party.

How to Do Taxes

April 15th rolls around every year, and it’s a date that most people dread. Why? If they haven’t done their tax preparation, they’re probably going to be behind the eight-ball.

For most people who hold only one full-time job, submitting federal, state, and local tax information is a piece of cake. It can even be done online in many cases. However, if your teen holds down two or more part-time jobs, your teen may need a little assistance from a professional tax preparer to get everything right.

How to Appreciate the Finer Things

There’s nothing wrong with affordable luxury now and then. Introduce your teen to beautiful items, even if you’re just browsing through collections of art and jewelry for sales like estate states and online auctions.

Knowing the finer things will help your child become more well-rounded. Who knows? You may also foster a taste for a certain type of clothing or decor that makes your child happy.

How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Teens aren’t necessarily known for having awesome eating and exercising habits unless they’re focused on staying fit for a sport. Before your child relocates for school or a job, encourage him or her to get involved with a fitness program and choose healthier foods whenever possible.

Is your child balking at the idea of going to the gym or riding a bike throughout the neighborhood? Help your teen find a workout that’s fun and rewarding for them. This can mean anything from taking regular hikes in a nearby state park to golfing at the local country club. Remember: the activity doesn’t matter as long as your teen is committed to doing it.

Why all the worry about not eating pizza every night or getting fresh air each day? Embracing a healthier lifestyle when a person is younger makes it easier for the individual to continue on a path of proper self-care later. It also reduces the risk of acquiring certain conditions including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Whether you have a younger or older teen, teach your kids what to know before moving out. It’s a gift that will keep on giving.

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