Most parents are unflinching when engaging their children about the dangers of drugs, drinking and sex. Yet we tend to shy away from meaningful conversations about money. We can no longer afford to be complacent in doing this.

Starting on the right foot

Each year more than 4 million young people reach the crossroads where they transition from high school. For many, taking out student loans is a necessity. The key with student loan debt is to minimize the amount you become indebted to, and then stay on schedule to finish your degree in the appropriate time.

Be diligent in understanding repayment obligations and look for scholarships and grants to help offset the amount you borrow. We’ve seen too many students borrow money for college and then not complete a degree. This is a double-edged sword that must be avoided. Parents need to work with their children to strategize a plan for funding the entire college duration—not just the first year.

"Research backs the notion that parents have the most influence over how their children will develop healthy financial habits..."

Today’s landscape

Student loan debt now stands at more than $1.3 trillion, outpacing both credit card and auto loan debt among U.S. households. They are entering the workforce behind the financial eight ball.

Research backs the notion that parents have the most influence over how their children will develop healthy financial habits—more so than work experience or any level of financial education received in school. As parents, we need to step up our game. We need to be positive role models and engage our children in regular financial conversations that are not lectures and come at a time with the most impact for helping shape positive behaviors about money.

All aboard?

Collectively as a society, we need to make it a priority to overcome our intimidation with money. We need to exercise more restraint with credit. We need to be mindful of the future we want to have and take saving seriously. We must practice fundamental behaviors like budgeting, establishing an emergency fund, understanding products from our financial institutions before we sign and having a plan that will help us achieve our financial stability.

Financial education needs to get personal. This is not an option—it is a necessity. As we move into 2016 let’s set a resolution for change.