A mom posted this question in a Facebook group: “How do you encourage your kids to follow their heart but not into debt?”

It’s a tough question. On one hand, we want to encourage our kids to live their dreams. On the other hand, we also envision them buying a house, raising a family, and retiring at a decent age. I know I would have a hard time seeing my kids struggle to make a living.

Here are some of the many comments the mom received on her Facebook post:

“It’s impossible.” 

“I tell my kids, I don’t care what they do, but they have to be able to support themselves.”

“Passion doesn’t pay the bills.”

“Be very clear about the debt – not only will it impact his/her ability to buy a home in the future, but it also impacts his/her ability to retire. Ask if it’s worth working another five or more years when they are in their 60s. Because the money they’ll be spending to pay back debt in their 20s and 30s would be money they could have put toward retirement.”

“Debt isn’t evil. Debt with a plan is the only way some of our kids will get a college degree.”

A parent once said she wished she was coached before her kids went to college. She and her spouse ended up derailing their own retirement dreams to help their kid with college debt, allowing him to live at home for a few years.

Here is how you can help your teen balance their career dream and the financial impact it may have:

  1. Research, research, research the career. Too many kids think they want a particular job, realizing after a year or two that they hate it and no longer want that career.
  2. Have them find out the annual salary for the career they want. ONET Online is an excellent resource.
  3. Understand the projected growth for the career. Will there be more or fewer jobs in the future? Where are these jobs located?
  4. Determine where they can get the education and figure out the costs – tuition, room, board, meal plans, books, etc. 

Once your teen completes these steps, they should be better able to decide if they still want to pursue their dream career. Maybe they are willing to incur the debt and set a clear plan of how to pay it off. One parent on Facebook suggested that kids listen to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or Chris Hogan’s Everyday Millionaire.

This is why it’s essential to help your teen determine their career choices during their sophomore and junior years of high school. You need the time to create a clear financial plan to get them to their ideal college. I suggest you work with a college financial planner that can help you with economic aspects like merit aid and scholarships.

Contact me if you want to be sure your teen is making the right choice for their future. I utilize a career assessment that matches a person’s interests directly to specific jobs. The jobs have been thoroughly researched on what it takes to be successful and what could derail success. Schedule a complimentary strategy session with me here.