The Gift of a Real-World Education
If she's still young enough to be somewhat dependent on you and her mother and she's talking about getting married, your major concern is how the heck this kid is going to take care of herself and a husband. You can help her learn the basics before she's out on her own by sitting down and going over a few money matters.
Tough love is a tough thing to carry through on. If you're very concerned about how she and her new husband will pay the bills (because neither of them seem to know the first thing about money or budgeting), it's important for you to provide her with a crash-course in budgeting, before her credit is ruined by an inability to pay her bills once she's out on her own.
Getting tough on the money issue differs wildly from being overprotective, by the way. In this situation, you're actually giving her the tools to survive out there in the world; you're not taking care of the bills for her. Don't feel guilty for taking the lead on this topic.
If she starts crying and tells you that you're the meanest dad in the whole world, then you'll know you were right to carry on with this experiment. This is something that's imperative to her happy, successful future: Many young couples break up over money (when the issue of who's spending how much on what crops up, or, worse yet, when the realization that life really stinks when you're broke makes its entrance into a new marriage). The better she understands the value of budgeting before she flies the coop, the better off she'll be in the long run.
Run Through the Budget
If you've been taking care of the finances for her entire life, your daughter may not have the slightest idea of whom you write checks to every month, or how much money you actually spend when you pay the bills. Sit down with her (and her paycheck stub) and go through a typical month of bills, estimating what she's likely to pay for things where you don't have an actual number. This list might include the following:
Transportation (car payments, maintenance, commuting expenses)
Utilities (gas, water, electric, cable, heat, garbage)
Other outstanding debt (student loans)
These are the bare minimum expenses of life. These payments don't include anything fun — aside from the credit card, which, you should mention, should be used only when absolutely necessary.
Explain that it's always best to pay cash, and if she uses her credit card frequently, she should keep track of her purchases and pay them off at the end of each month. Explain to her that carrying a balance means that she's likely paying somewhere in the vicinity of 19 percent on the outstanding debt.
Hand Over the Bills
If she's living with you and you're not making her pay rent or utilities, now's a good time to start, especially if she's never lived anywhere