Financial Tips for Teenagers

I am going to share a disgraceful story. In fact, it is so outlandishly wrong that you may believe it is untrue, but that would be a mistake. Once upon a time…around three months ago…my daughter went to the mall with her friends. I ended up at the same mall to shop for a gift. Knowing I was there, my daughter sent me a text, informing me that the cutest sweater in the entire world existed in her favorite store. She tried it on and left it hanging in the dressing room so I could make my way to that shop, locate it, and then purchase it. When I asked her how much it cost, her reply was quite telling. She had no clue. Yay! A sweater scavenger hunt for me and my prize will be spending my money on something for her! Lord, I’m being tested, right?

Getting teens to understand the value of a dollar is a daunting task. Despite the horrific moment related above, my daughter is actually quite grateful for what she receives. Unfortunately, gratitude does not equal financial prowess, so it is up to us as parents to teach our teenagers how to be fiscally savvy. Their idea of planning for the future is hearing that you have to spend money to make money…so they purchase a Playstation 4.

The sad truth is that if you have a teenager, you are most likely verging on being broke yourself! We need to look at this age group in a different manner. They are adults-in-training and, as such, need to learn the importance of saving and planning ahead. They may not be in college yet, but I guarantee they deserve a Ph.D. in spending their parents’ cash. For our Millennials, money exists about as long as a Snapchat photo. YOLO, right? Their wants are high, and their funds are low. My daughter is such a generous soul, but she is generous with my money as well as her own! Listed below are some tips to save both your own bank account and their financial future.

  • Be open about your family’s finances. It can be difficult to discuss bills with our kids, but it is important for them to understand.
  • Encourage them to earn their money! Teenagers need to grasp the time and effort involved when it comes to making a buck.
  • Apply heavy focus on needs versus wants. Concert tickets fall into the “want” category, while having food on the table is a “need.”
  • Open both a checking and a savings account for them. Saving is difficult for teens, because their concept of the future seems quite distant. Teach them early on to save at least ten percent of their earnings.
  • Let them use a debit card. The key word there is “debit.” While teens need to be educated and comfortable with electronic banking in general, never hand over a credit card. A teenager with a credit card is a bone-chilling nightmare.
  • Urge your child to donate another ten percent of their earnings to a church or charity of their choosing. It doesn’t hurt to have that constant reminder to help others.
  • Teach them to look for bargains. One store may list an item much higher than another. Look for coupons and show them how to compare prices.
  • This will be difficult, but allow them to make mistakes! If they do not listen, do not bail them out. It is vital to the process for them to correct their errors…and it doesn’t hurt for them to discover how wise you are after all!

Teaching your teenager how to budget may seem like a thankless, rigorous, and unending task…and it is, indeed! Nonetheless, doing so will make you both happy in the long run. In fact, you may even get one of those precious “you were right’s” at some point! And what parent doesn’t love that?


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