Financial Resource Center

Money Management


Teach Teens Financial Responsibility

by Dianne Molvig / December 19th, 2016


When your kids were little, you frequently heard requests such as “Will you read me a story?” or “Can we go for a bike ride?” Now that your offspring have morphed into teenagers, their pleadings often involve asking for money—your money.

How can you tame their cash demands and avoid the money wrangles, while also instilling a sense of financial responsibility? Here are a few ideas:

• Make the most of “teachable moments”—Look for opportunities in your day-to-day interactions with your teen when you can slip in a money “lesson.” For instance, if you’re out shopping together, you can talk about your own shopping choices or why you’re delaying a purchase.

• Provide hands-on experience—These types of experiences have more impact for teens than just listening to you talk. For instance, have your teenager make the grocery list for the week. At the market, he’ll see for himself how big a chunk of the family budget goes toward groceries.

• Model money monitoring—Sit down with your teen to go over her list of expenditures for the week. Discuss such questions as: Was this a want or a need? Why did your balance get so low at this point? What could you have done differently in your spending?

• Introduce plastic, perhaps—You’ll need to decide if your teen is mature enough to manage a debit card. You could give your teen a prepaid debit card with a spending limit. Again, go over transactions together.

• Talk about the future—What will come after high school? If it’s college, what portion of expenses will the teen have to cover? Older teens also begin to think about career choices. This is a good time to talk with them about saving for retirement. It’s never too early to have that conversation.

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