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Teaching Teens Financial Responsibility

When your kids were little, you frequently heard requests such as, “Will you read me a story?” or “Can we go for a bike ride?” Now that they’ve morphed into teenagers, their requests often involve asking for money.

How can you accommodate their wants while also instilling a sense of financial responsibility? Here are a few ideas:

• Make the most of “teachable moments” - Look for opportunities in your day-to-day interactions with your teen when you can slip in a money “lesson.” For instance, if you’re out shopping together, you can talk about your own shopping choices or why you’re delaying a purchase.

• Provide hands-on experience - These types of experiences have more impact for teens than just listening to you talk. For instance, have your teenager make the grocery list for the week. At the market, he’ll see for himself how big a chunk of the family budget goes toward groceries. 

• Model money monitoring - Sit down with your teen to go over her list of expenditures for the week. Discuss the following: Were these wants (things that just made you feel good) or needs (things like a new jacket to replace the one that no longer fits)? How could you have spent your money differently?

• Introduce plastic, perhaps - You’ll need to decide if your teen is mature enough to manage a debit card. You could give your teen a First Florida prepaid card with a spending limit. Again, go over transactions together.

• Talk about the future - What will come after high school? If it’s college, what portion of expenses will the teen have to cover? Older teens also begin to think about career choices. This is a good time to talk with them about saving for retirement. It’s never too early to have that conversation. 

Getting teens established with financial tools can help them learn to manage money now while the stakes are small so they don't encounter unnecessary financial trouble later. 

Copyright 2018 Credit Union National Association Inc.