Being a parent requires more than ensuring your child has a roof over their head and food in their stomach. In order to help guide your child into the world of adulthood as an independent adolescent, teaching them lessons about responsibility and financial independence is essential. When you teach teens about money, they are less likely to act recklessly with their earned income while also having a more clear picture of how to manage their own finances. Understanding how to teach my teen a lesson about money can also help you maintain your peace of mind as a parent, regardless of how old your child is at any given time.
Discuss Finances Openly in the Home
One of the best ways to introduce the topic of money to teenagers is to do so casually and as nonchalantly as possible, such as by regularly discussing financial freedom and financial health. The more children are comfortable talking about money, the less likely they are to be fearful of their own finances and how to go about managing them, especially once they are required to and are on their own. A few ways to make the discussion of finances and money a bit less taboo in your home might include:
- Talking about your financial decisions (short-term and long-term investments regularly)
- Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook when discussing financial matters in front of your teens, even if you are under pressure or stress due to recent financial strain
- Assisting your teens with the definitions of common financial terms that are most likely to be in your child’s life once they are out on their own or managing their own money. Encourage your teen to ask questions and to ask for the definitions of words and phrases that are not as easy for them to understand, especially in the financial sector.
- Be transparent when discussing your own financial matters. While you may not want to share all of your financial struggles or issues with your children, it is also important for them to understand that it is perfectly normal to encounter financial strain from time to time. Normalizing your own ability to accept and attack a financial struggle you are having head-on will also motivate your teens to do the same if they should ever find themselves in a similar scenario.
- Remove yourself from the conversation whenever your teen asks about financial matters if you can do so, especially if you have personal opinions attached to your response. Remain as neutral as possible when discussing financial matters with your teens to avoid sharing your own personal issues or anxieties that may be tied to financial struggles.
Teach Regular Financial Lessons
Whether you have a 13-year-old or if you have a teenager who is on the verge of graduation with a driver’s license, there is never a bad time to teach a financial lesson. From teaching a lesson while shopping for new personal items to helping your child understand the basics of banking and investing, there are plenty of ways to help your teen feel more prepared when it comes to managing money and handling expenses in their own lives. A few ways to consider teaching your teens regular financial lessons might include:
- Offering them jobs: Provide your children and teens with opportunities to make their own money around the house, especially for those who are underage and not yet legally capable of working in your state. Offering paid jobs can help to teach your teens responsibility while simultaneously teaching them the value of a dollar.
- Provide a set allowance: Another way to help steer your teen in the right direction when it comes to handling money and their own finances is to provide them with a set allowance. Offering a set allowance weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly can help your teen to navigate their personal expenses and their ability to save their own money for future investments or expenses they are interested in.
- Have your teen pay for themselves: Planning a trip to a fancy restaurant? Want to have fun with your spouse on an outing? If your teen is learning about earning money and managing their own finances, you can invite them along at their own expense. Requiring your teen to pitch in with their own money will also help them to better understand the value of a dollar and how much it cost for them to do the activities they enjoy most.
Before you can begin teaching your teen lessons about money in general, it is important to know the type of goals you have in mind for the lessons and what exactly you would like for your teen(s) to learn. For example, if your teen is younger and only receiving an allowance from home, you may want them to begin to understand the significance of saving money, even if there is no immediate need to do so in their current life.
However, if your teen is older and about to head off to college or if they are working independently, you may want them to be prepared regarding taxes, deductions, and even opening a 401k of their own. A few ways to go about defining financial goals when discussing money matters with your teen include:
- Consider what you want your teen to learn and whether or not it is a top priority when it comes to managing their own finances.
- Keep in mind the current age of your teenager and their overall knowledge when it comes to managing money and earning an income.
- Define which responsibilities you would like your teen to take on financially based on their current age, job, and the level of income they generate in the household.
Money Lessons for Working Teens
Once your teen has landed a job, you may feel proud and excited for the next chapter in their young adolescent lives. However, as their parent, it is still your responsibility to help them best navigate the process of earning an income, saving, paying taxes, and living freely as an independent and autonomous individual. After your teen begins working, there are still many ways to teach your teen a lesson about money, such as:
- Discuss financial plans openly: As the parent of an underage teenager, it is important to discuss what your teen will be doing now that they are capable of generating an income on their own. Will you be requiring your teen to pay for their own car insurance, gas, and expenses? Will your child need to save money for their own vehicle or education? Discussing what your child’s new job is intended for can help to steer them in a direction that is financially stable, which can also come in handy for their future once they are out on their own.
- Encourage a savings account: One of the best ways to help your teen to become more comfortable with holding onto their money for as long as possible is to encourage them to open their very own savings account. With a savings account, nudge your child to deposit a set amount of each of the paychecks they receive into their savings account. This will not only teach them to hold onto their money longer, but it will also build healthy financial management habits that will stick with them for the rest of their adult lives.
- Time management: Be sure to review how your teen is spending their time when it comes to education, working, family, and friends. Teaching your teen the importance of maintaining balance in one’s life at any age is crucial to prevent them from feeling worn out or burnt out, especially if they have already taken on the responsibility of a full-time job on top of being a high school student. When your teenager is more comfortable with managing their time, they are less likely to feel overwhelmed or crushed mentally when handling stressful issues, even if they involve financial matters.
- Create a budget together: Another way you can help your teen become more comfortable with handling their money is to help them set a budget. Even if your teenager is trying to be independent by working, it is still your responsibility to ensure that they are doing so responsibly and with a proper plan in place. As a parent of a teenager, you can help your teens become comfortable with saving and managing their money by setting up a budget based on their income as well as any other expenses they are currently responsible for on their own.
When you feel comfortable knowing how to teach my teen a lesson about money, it is much easier to pay attention to your own financial choices. By being cognizant and self-aware of your own financial decisions in the household, you can pass on valuable lessons to your teens as they learn to become independent adults on their own.
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