As I write this, the Dow Jones is down almost 500 points and below 10,000. No one really knows from one day to the next how the markets are going to react and how long the difficult economy will be with us and how low it will go.
If you want tips on how to speak with young children about financial matters, here is a good article with expert advice on how to be honest without frightening children.
I have kids aged 13, 19 and almost 21. These are the questions I have relating to them:
Will they be able to get student loans to finish college?
Will they be able to keep/find jobs during the school year and summer?
What advice should I be giving them with their long-range career planning?
For my first question, I was reassured when I found that congress passed the Ensuring Student Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 one more year, assuring loans through the 2009-2010 school year. For more information about student loans, go to the America's Student Loan Providers website.
My next question is will my daughter be able to keep her part-time job that she depends on? Will my son be able to find a job when he comes home from school? This past summer was a rude awakening for him because it was not as easy as in the past. Will it be harder? I know knocking-on-doors and networking are still the best ways to find jobs for youth, but don't forget common websites like craigslist and groovejob.com
Young job hunters will not be able to be as picky as they may have been in the past. In my area, many fast-food locations were begging people to apply. I don't notice that anymore. Your geographic area will determine just how difficult the job market will be, but I plan on encouraging my kids to pay attention to any help wanted signs just in case they get laid off, remind them of the skills employers are looking for, including just being on time, and encourage them to consider internships to gain additional marketable job skills. The best place for them to learn about internships is either through their school, such as the department for their major.
Should people make adjustments with their long-range career advice? I think students should still be encouraged to follow their heart, albeit with a little practical sense. You have to enjoy what you do for a living. Period. But, students need to be aware of the related and connected careers available to them in the field they are interested in. Whether they want to be a lawyer, own a restaurant, be a stock broker, a dancer -- all of these careers have related careers that most young people don't think about and may in fact be better options.
Do you have students who are confused or anxious? Are you adjusting your advice? Please tell us what you think. A lot of people are confused right now. We should all be talking right now.