Carrie Schwab Pomerantz
(SET ITAL) Dear Carrie: My 22-year-old son graduated from college this spring. Now he's struggling to find a good job, and I'm struggling with how to help him transition into the real world. How can I help him get his footing? -- A Reader (END ITAL)

Dear Reader: This is a tough one for us as parents. After paying for a high-priced education, it's hard to see our kids in low-paying jobs that don't relate to their ultimate career aspirations.

However, according to a 2014 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 44 percent of recent college graduates hold jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree.

To put this in perspective, it's important to realize that this has been pretty much the norm for the past several decades. And historically, these figures go down as kids have more time to transition into the workforce.

So the "real world" right after graduation may look a little different than you or your son anticipated. But that doesn't mean he should stop trying to get a good job -- or that you can't help him get a handle on real-world finances. I believe there are several things you can do to be supportive and at the same time help him move toward independence.


That's No. 1. It's great if you're in a position to help your son financially, but be sure to make your support specific. Here are a couple of thoughts on how to do this.

Let's say your son is living at home (according to a 2013 Pew Research report, 56 percent of kids 18-24 are!) and finds a part-time job. Start by discussing his expenses -- transportation, food, clothes, entertainment, credit card balances, student loan payments and possibly even rent paid to you to cover his share of household expenses. Help him develop a monthly budget and talk about what his salary realistically will cover. Then, you could consider supplementing his paycheck to help cover his essentials -- providing you can afford to do so.

Or if your son is living on his own, be clear about how you'll help support him. Ask to see his budget so you know exactly where your money is going. You won't be helping him achieve independence if you pay for everything.


Saving is one of the hardest things to do on a small salary, but one of the most important, no matter how much you make. So encourage your son to open a savings account where he can sock away money for an apartment, a car or other goals. Also talk to him about the importance of an emergency fund. As an incentive, you could offer to match a portion of his savings.

Carrie Schwab Pomerantz

Carrie Schwab Pomerantz is a Motley Fool contributor.

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