It’s no secret that financial education is not taught in school. May of us found ourselves in poor financial health at some point in our adult hood, not for lack of trying, but simply for not knowing any better. This is why it’s important to teach our children about money from a young age. Start them young, especially during the critical teen years, and you can improve their financial responsibility and increase their ability to handle their money successfully well into their adult years.
1. Give your teen more responsibility.
During the teenage years, it may seem as though your child constantly has their hand out waiting for you to hand over more cash or write another check. There are mounting school expenses, the price of gas, and sporting equipment or fees for clubs. You may prefer that your child focus on their other responsibilities, rather than holding a job of their own, but that doesn’t mean that you have to constantly have extra cash on hand! Instead, set out a specific amount of money for your teen to use each week. For example, you might give them their lunch money a week at a time or hand them lunch money and gas money at the same time. This gives them the opportunity to learn how to budget and manage their spending.
2. Don’t always bail your teen out.
As a parent, you don’t want to see your child suffer–and in many cases, their suffering is an inconvenience for you, too. They ran out of gas money before the end of the week, so either you have to drive them around everywhere, or you have to give them the money. Sometimes, however, your teenager needs to experience the natural consequences of their financial failures. Not being able to drive for a few days, or at least being restricted to only the driving you want them to do instead of having the freedom to come and go more freely, is a great reminder that next time, they should save that extra money for gas.
3. Let your teen have opportunities to earn.
If you don’t want your older teen to have an after-school job, have them explore doing odd jobs around the neighborhood in their spare time. They might babysit for a neighbor, shovel in the winter or cut grass in the summer. Your teen needs to have a source of income that will allow them to manage some of their money on their own–and increase the number of things that they’re able to pay for on their own, rather than relying on you to foot the bill. Not only is it building work ethic but they are more likely to want to save and better manage money they worked for than money simply given to them.
4. Match their savings.
A child who was eager to put money into their piggy bank each week may transform into a teenager who can’t seem to hold on to a single penny by the end of the month. In order to add a little extra incentive, offer to match your child’s contributions to their savings account.
Financial management skills are skills that will last your teen for a lifetime. By setting down a firm foundation now, you prepare your child to live on their own. Offering more financial freedom and responsibility throughout the teenage years will help shape your child into a more financially responsible adult–and that means you’ll be able to enjoy the confidence that your child will be able to take care of their finances throughout their adult years.