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“I need the newest Smartphone.” “All my friends have designer purses. I’m getting one for myself.” “I love my new credit card! I’m treating myself to a little retail therapy and maybe go out with my friends to a fancy restaurant. Enjoy the moment!”
Oh, the joys of the worry-free, careless teenage life. That stage when you’re no longer a child, but a human being blossoming into adulthood, without the full list of responsibilities that come with it. Yet.
Wouldn’t you wish you had made different choices when you were that age? Of course! You were young, innocent, living the moment. And what about your financial decisions? Wouldn’t you wish your parents had taught you smart spending habits?
It’s never too late to educate your teen about the importance of saving money, just follow these tips.
1. TEACH THEM TO BE MINDFUL SPENDERS.
We spend money EVERY day. On food, services, gas, everything! Let’s not fool ourselves, kids WILL use their money, regardless if we want them to or not, it’s just reality. So teach them to be smart, not stingy nor big spenders. That means making them analyze and evaluate their purchases (we’ll talk a little more about this in a bit). Teach them about discounts (especially student discounts), coupons, sales, and sharing expenses with others, like their siblings. Let them work as a team!
2. MAKE THEM KEEP TRACK OF THEIR PURCHASES.
This is a great way for them to learn about their relationship with money and the “stuff” they buy with it. Ask them to keep the receipts and write down the amount paid, what it was used on and when. Now here comes the big question: How did they feel after spending their own bucks? Happy? Remorseful? Would they do anything differently? Let them keep this information on diary, an Excel sheet or an app, whatever works best for your teen.
3. BUDGETING. BUDGETING. BUDGETING.
Teach them how to create a budget for their own expenses. Let them do this on their own, only guide them if you notice that their plans are completely unrealistic! Have them set their financial responsibilities: what they need and what they want. Do they want to go to the mall with friends on the weekend? Are they planning on investing in their first car? Do they need to save some dollars for books or clothes?
Then ask them to add up all their earnings, regardless if they came from an allowance, a summer job or gift money, and set aside two different amounts: one for their spending needs and the other for saving. How much should they reserve for the things they want to do this week and how much for their bigger future plans?
Help them setup their first budget. It can be very basic to start but will give them ideas to develop good money habits.
4. RE-THINK CREDIT CARDS.
Giving a credit card to a teenager is endorsing debt at a young age. Forget about all that “build your credit” stuff. Teens are the number one pray for marketing and advertising, they will succumb to social pressure, so don’t let them fall into temptation. Instead, teach them financial independence. Open a savings or checking account and educate your kids about them: checking accounts are ideal for handling every day needs; saving accounts have benefits for the long haul and are to be used on emergencies or necessities.
5. REWARD THEM!
Give them compensations if they manage to stick to their saving plans, like pitching in some cash if they have been working on getting a new car or a going on a student exchange program, or matching the amount they have managed to set aside with so much effort. It’s a great incentive that ought to keep them motivated.
6. TEACH THEM TO EARN THEIR MONEY.
Money earned with work is much more appreciated and valued than the one handed out for free or as a gift. Encourage them to find a summer job, reward them economically for doing chores around the house, have them sell their artistic creations online, organize a bakery sale at school, even a lemonade stand outside your house! When they realize how much effort it took to get a profit, they’ll be much more prudent on their spending.
Summer jobs and after-school internships are all great ideas to eliminate “boredom” in your teenager as well!
And the 7th, and most important piece of advice…
7. SET AN EXAMPLE!
“Do as I say, not as I do” will not work as effective parenting. Only expect to see results if you do the same, after all, you are their adult model, their #1 guide. So let them see you work on your monthly household budget, avoid irresponsible splurges, let them know your family’s financial situation is in order. It’s your responsibility to give them the necessary tools to thrive and lead happy successful lives.