Interesting questions were posed at a growers and lenders conference in Norfolk, Nebraska, attended by many FFA students. “Do you have any ideas for improving my child’s work ethic, interpersonal skills, and money management skills without getting a headache or becoming a helicopter parent?” I would like to tell readers that I was well-dressed, attentive, and mostly technology-free during my formal sessions.
Below are some tips and suggestions I’ve seen over the decades of working with the agricultural industry and teaching over 10,000 students at Virginia Tech and Cornell University.
Many of you employ your own children to work in businesses or to do chores. One rule of his that has stood the test of time is the 50-25-25 rule. 50% of her income can be spent on the needs of children. 25% is invested in education and 25% in the long term. Many financial planners recommend mutual funds, and this is a good proposition. I recommend individual strains. That way, performance can be tracked and tied to a specific company.
Education is lifelong learning. Universities are not for everyone, and certificated vocational and technical programs will be the wave of the future. Away from her parents and family business, her 1-2 internships in these programs help her gain accountability and grow her network away from her friends. Communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills will be very important in the future. Communication includes oral, listening and non-verbal skills used in a team environment.
Shutting down technology for a few hours each day helps develop creative and critical thinking skills. This requires creating a budget, being accountable, and taking responsibility for repaying the loan.
Transitioning Adolescents and Young Adults
If possible, ask the younger generation to work a few years away from your business and make mistakes using other people’s money. Suggest non-financial loans to build accountability, credit rating, and confidence that traditional lenders are accountable.
The best crop you can grow, whether it’s your child or someone in your community, is the young. I challenge all readers of this column to help young people find the North Star in their lives!