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Your missionary may look dashing in his new suit, and those four years of high school Spanish are likely to pay off in spades over the next 24 months, but when it comes to leaving home and actually living on his own, what does your missionary know about handling his own finances?
Since the age of missionary eligibility dropped from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of young people setting out for 18-24 months of service around the world.
For many young adults recently graduated from high school, financial literacy didn't automatically come with their diploma. In fact, according to a 2013 back-to-school shopping survey conducted by Capitol One, nine out of 10 teens reported they were not involved in household budgeting or bill-paying.
Furthermore, less than half of U.S. states currently require a financial education course be offered in schools, according to the Council for Economic Education.
Prepping your missionary for personal financial management should begin at home. Learning to live responsibly on a small monthly budget is just the beginning.
By helping him or her prepare their finances beforehand, you can help them enjoy a successful — and more financially sound — mission.
Your missionary may be leaving the nest, but you should still have some involvement in his or her finances — especially when it comes to checking accounts.
Make sure that you or your spouse jointly holds access to your missionary's account. This way, you can act quickly when a debit card is lost/stolen, or if you need to add or transfer money quickly.
While you may be wary handing your 18 year-old a personal debit card (if he or she doesn't already have one), keep in mind that a debit card is much safer than carrying cash.
The missionary may be given a debit card from the mission president to pay for basic monthly expenses such as "groceries, personal grooming items, laundry, cleaning supplies, haircuts, postage for weekly letters to family, fast offerings, and transportation," according the Missionary Handbook.
But for items such as clothing, bicycle repairs, gifts and souvenirs, the missionary will need his or her personal debit card. When it comes to stolen/lost wallets, it can be much easier to recover funds with a debit card than with cash.
Plus, should family members want to send money to their missionary, the safest and fastest way to transfer funds is to the missionary's personal debit card that has been set up at home prior to entering the MTC.
Preach Debit Card Caution
While you may still have some control in your missionary's finances, it's important to teach them responsible debit card behavior before they leave on their mission.
For instance, Goldenwest Credit Union recommends that missionaries know to only use debit cards with reputable vendors, be alert of any devices that may be attached to card readers at ATMs and fuel pumps and make sure no one is lurking when you key in a pin number.
Sign-up For Account Alerts
With access to your missionary's checking account, you can likely sign up for automatic electronic alerts to inform you if your missionary is low on funds or if any fraudulent activity is detected.
Since communication is limited during missionary service, you'll likely be able to react faster to properly manage the account.
Communicate With Your Financial Institution
Before your missionary sets out into the world, contact your financial institution with information about where your missionary will be living for the next 18-24 months.
The bank or credit union can flag the account accordingly and authorize transactions to occur in a location far away from home. Without authorizing use in a different state or country, your financial institution may freeze funds to guard from theft or fraud.
Get Power of Attorney
Let's be honest, knowing your child is on his or her own in another area of the world can be stressful even in the best of circumstances. But what can you do in case of emergency?
Before your missionary leaves home, establish power of attorney to allow you to make financial decisions on their behalf. Getting power of attorney can be completed quickly online, but you will need to get the document notarized.
When it comes to teaching your children personal financial management, it's never too early to start. [Goldenwest Credit Union](http://www.ksl.com/ad_logger/ad_logger. php? location=http://www.gwcu.org/& sponsor=gwcu-missionary-body2) offers Kids Club savings accounts for young children and free student checking accounts for teenagers beginning at age 13. If you would like more information about setting up an account for your future missionaries, please contact 800-283-4550 or visit [gwcu.org](http://www.ksl.com/ad_logger/ad_logger. php? location=http://www.gwcu.org/& sponsor=gwcu-missionary-body3).