Six Steps to Raising Financially Responsible Teens
In today’s money-driven society, teens are constantly bombarded by magazines, television ads, and peer pressure which make them feel less than ideal if they do not wear the latest clothing style and drive a “cool” car. Briefly visit your local mall and you will observe multitudes of young people who shop as if credit cards have no maximum spending limit. With all this push for extravagance, is it even possible to raise your teens with money sense and save them from making serious financial mistakes?
Although I have yet to have teenagers of my own, I was blessed to be raised by parents who taught me from a young age to be a wise steward of money. Let me share some things my parents did to instill in me that money is a limited resource and must be spent with care.
1. Start Early
Just because your child is too young to have a real job, does not mean it is too early to start teaching basic financial principles. From the time we were little, we always received an “allowance” from our parents. We only received this money if we had done all of our daily/weekly chores. This taught us that money is not free; it is earned.
2. Set An Example
You cannot expect your teens to wisely spend money if you do not set a good example for them. Do your children see you buying things on credit because you want them now and do not have the patience to wait until you are able to save up enough money? My dad was an excellent example in this area. Before making any large purchase (such as a car), he first decided what he could afford. Then, he began shopping around. Sometimes it would take him close to a year to find what he was looking for, for the price he wanted to pay. His patience always paid off and it left an indelible impression upon me.
3. Don’t Buy Everything For Them
It is easy for many parents to want to “help teens out” by buying most everything for them. But, is this truly “helping”? When your teenager enters the real world on their own, they are going to have some hard lessons to learn if you always bought everything they needed and wanted for them. As soon as we were able to begin earning money, my dad had us start paying for some of our own things such as clothes, gifts for other people, things we wanted, and so on. Because my parents did not buy everything for us, it taught me the value of hard work, to think before I spend, and to look for the best buy.
4. Teach Your Teens the Value of Hard Work
In a day when laziness is rampant, teach your teens instead the importance of being a hard worker. What you work for, you usually appreciate more. If your teenager has worked hard to buy themselves a car, it can be almost guaranteed that they will appreciate it more and take better care of it.
5. Train Your Teens to Think Before They Spend
This might seem like a no-brainer, but learning to think before I spend has literally saved me hundreds of dollars over the years. Teach your teens to ask themselves at least three questions before making any purchase:
Do I have the money on hand to pay for this?
Do I need this?
Can I buy this somewhere else for less?
Oftentimes, in asking these questions, I will talk myself out of making the purchase! I will realize I don’t really have the money to pay for it or I don’t need the item. Other times, I will think of a way I can purchase this item for less.
6. Encourage Your Teens to Get the Best Buy
In addition to asking these questions, also train your teens to look for the best deal. It is amazing what variation in prices you will find out there. For instance, the water pump burst on one of our vehicles recently. When we took it into auto shop for repair, they said that we would have to take it to a more specialized shop, since the engine would need to be taken out in order to replace the water pump. The first price we were quoted was $775. Knowing that was out of our current budget, my husband began calling around to different body shops. One place quoted him around $500 another quoted him a little over $300. By calling around to find the best deal, we are going to be saving hundreds of dollars on this repair job.