Last week we talked about teaching young children about saving and managing money. It tends to be easy when they’re little because you can just tell a young child that saving money is important and that they must do it. But what about your teenagers? They are still kids but are nearing adulthood and all the financial decisions that come with it.
Here are five topics to start with!
Talk About Credit – Teach your kids the difference between good credit and bad credit. Talk to them about the difference between borrowing responsibly to buy a house and spending wildly with a credit card. They will soon be bombarded with offers for shiny new credit cards with enticing offers. Talk to them about how to use credit cards wisely – spend only what they can really afford, pay off the balance every month and pay on time.
Budgeting – Does your teen have an after school job or an allowance? Talk to them about how to budget those funds and plan for the future. Are they saving for college or for a new car? Are they blowing all their money on new music and fast food? Help them set up a budget for their money by identifying their expenses and savings needs. Then list their income and help them prioritize how to spend and save that income.
Daily Tasks – Involve your teens in household tasks that involve financial decision making. Teach them how to write a check and how to balance a checkbook. Show them around your online bank account, let them schedule your bills through Online Bill Pay and talk about the expensive damage caused by late payments. Take them grocery shopping and explain why you buy the cereal that’s on sale and why you typically buy ground beef instead of steak. Teach them the basic daily skills they will need to survive adulthood.
Pay Yourself First – Talk to them about saving money and why it’s important. Teach them to make it a priority to save a little bit from their allowance or their paycheck every single week. “Pay yourself first” is a powerful mantra that will make saving automatic. Just ten percent can add up quickly and can build a nice nest egg for emergencies, a down payment for a car or living expenses for their college years.
Credit Scores – Talk to your teens about the correlation between a credit score and spending habits. Talk to them about how their credit score will impact their borrowing ability in the future. Carrying an excessive credit card balance and paying bills late now and then may not seem like a big deal to a teenager. But these behaviors will affect their borrowing ability, determine future loan rates, affect their ability to rent an apartment or insure a car and ultimately affect the affordability of these things they need and want as adults. Reinforce the idea that paying bills on time, paying off credit cards every month and making good financial decisions will increase their credit score.