Everything in life can be overwhelming when you are a teenager. Parents of teens deal with the symptoms of this daily. While some parts of your young adult's life can be difficult to guide them through, you can do a lot to help them learn to manage their money. Like this US News article says, being a teenager means living a life with a lot of financial wants and spending constraints. With a little guidance, teens can learn financial responsibility and begin to see the results of smart money management.
Opening a checking and savings account may be second nature to adults, but for teenagers, it can be a great first step towards financial responsibility. Seeing how money flows in and out of a checking account through spending and deposits is a big part of learning basic budgeting. This article from mymoneycoach.ca cites the importance of learning to keep savings separate from checking to teach long term savings strategies.
Developing a budget, and sticking to it, are skills that all of us should practice no matter what age we are. But when we learn things like budgeting early on, we tend to utilize those skills as we get older. Technology for building budgets and tracking your spending is available in all sorts of forms these days, from apps like Toshl Finance to running a micro business with QuickBooks.
Budgeting will help teenagers build towards long term spending goals. Regular, planned contributions to a savings account can help your teen meet short and longer-term spending goals. Every teenager wants stuff, whether it is the latest iPhone, a new PlayStation or a mountain bike. Developing their savings will help them understand the patience and discipline needed to reach these goals.
Teens can develop good spending habits and financial responsibility by learning strategies to help them preserve their money. Learning not to borrow money by living within their means may be hard for them, but it will pay off in years to come. One tip for teens from the mymoneycoach.ca article linked above is to encourage teens to leave debit cards at home and take no more than what they want to spend when they go out. Encouraging them to track where their money goes (and review once in a while) is a great way for them to learn about their spending habits.
Dave Ramsey encourages parents to avoid giving teens credit cards. He says that it teaches people to live on borrowed money and that any advantages of building credit early are far outweighed by the temptations to spend with the card. While credit cards are initially not a great idea, getting your teen a debit card is encouraged by US News: "A debit card will allow teens to see whether they spend money more easily when it's virtual, and they can prepare to take extra care when using credit cards as they get older."
Getting your teen to stick to any routine might be difficult. Helping them to learn to contribute to their savings account by offering incentives can help. Advice from moneyunder30.com is for teens to ask parents for help here and there. One way for relatives to help would be to match a teenager's savings goals. Ie., for every $100 they save, they get $100 matched in their savings account.
Rewards can be a big incentive to learn good savings habits. But in truth, banks do the same for us by offering earned credit on savings accounts and other financial products like CDs. Emphasize the use of credit to build long term savings with your teen.
It's a big first step in life, but for many, our teenage years are the time when we get our first job. Teenagers are likely to want to spend as much as they can get in income, if not more. If they aren't making money on their own, that income is coming from parents or other relatives. A part-time job will add a lot of financial freedom to their lives. If they aren't ready for a job, consider household or neighborhood chores as an option for earning money. No matter what, the first payday will demonstrate how worth it an independent income can be for them.
Like most good habits, financial responsibility is best learned as early as possible. As teenagers, we grow from depending on our parents to provide our basic needs (and wants) for us into young adults with our own cars and jobs, and the budgets and bank accounts we need to get there.