How to Teach a Teenager About Finances: Money Before College

How to Teach a Teenager About Finances: Money Before College

Sending your child to college is fraught with expectations and worries. Every teenager develops at a different rate, yet some go to college and excel without any problems while others languish the first year. Most colleges expect these issues and have short-term classes, counseling and tutoring programs to get students involved in college life in a positive manner. One way parents can help alleviate some of these new-to-college issues is by teaching their teens the value of money during their high school years.

Until you give your teen responsibility for their income, most kids won't learn a thing about money except that mom and dad pay for everything. In fact, kids often don't even realize everything that parents pay for on a regular basis. That lack of knowledge leaves teens bereft when they go off to college. To help ease your teen into money responsibility, here are some suggestions that really work.

1. Kids Earn Their Allowance

Giving kids an allowance to spend on small things they want is the first basic step for teaching them about money. This can start in elementary school, as soon as kids are old enough to make their own bed and pick up clothes from the floor. Instead of just handing them their allowance once a week, you should give them simple tasks to earn their allowance. For very young children, making their bed can earn their allowance. As they get older, you can raise their allowance while you add chores to earn it. Activities such as taking out the trash, vacuuming their room, helping clean up after meals, are all chores that you can use to teach kids that you earn money.

2. Involve Teens in Your Big Purchasing Decisions

Teach your kids how to choose which items to spend their money on by walking them through some of your decisions. You can take them with you when you compare prices on big purchases, and when you have two items you want to buy but have to select one due to cost. Involve them in the selection process to teach them how to make those choices.

3. Teach Teens How to Save

Using your teen's allowance, open a savings account in a bank to teach them how to save. Most local and online banks will open a savings account with as little as ten dollars. Go into the bank, and have the bank clerk open a savings account for your teenager. Then, after the account is open, teach them to save a percentage or specific dollar amount each month. Go with them to deposit their money in the bank as a regular parent-child activity. By doing this activity together, you establish a positive memory with saving money that your teen will remember when they are on their own.

4. Give High School Teens Fiscal Responsibility

Once they're old enough, give your teen the responsibility to get a part-time job to earn money. This job can be at home or through a regular job search. This job has two benefits. It teaches your teenager how to find and keep a job, and it gives them a weekly salary to spend and/or save. They can use this job to save for college expenses after they graduate.

Once your teen is earning a regular salary, give them the responsibility to pay for their own needs. You shouldn't surprise them with this responsibility. Instead, sit them down and discuss with them that since they are in high school, they need to take more responsibility to pay for their needs. Then, give them a reasonable list of things they need to pay for. Since they are older, they are old enough to understand that everything in their home is paid for with the money you earn. Now, they are old enough to contribute to the household income in a small way, too.


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