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When your teen first begins earning money from a part-time job, it’s an exciting time for the whole family. It’s their first taste of freedom and your first opportunity to show them how to responsibly handle their income. Even if it’s just grass cutting job on the side, there’s a great sense of pride that you and your teen will share in together.
Here are just a few ways you can instil financial responsibility in them early on:
Savings and Checking
This is the foundation of all financial responsibility. Once your teen begins stacking up paychecks, they’ll need to have a place to control their money. While most people head for the bank, consider a local credit union instead. A credit union is a not-for-profit institution that doesn’t answer to out-of-town investors. Instead, they serve a specific community. For example, someone living in the San Diego area can join an El Cajon credit union and open an account. This enables credit unions to offer their members better rates on things like savings and loans. A teen can really benefit from a credit union savings and checking account to get them started off on the right foot.
A basic parent-to-teen discussion about budgeting is in order once those paychecks start coming in. During this talk, you can listen to your teen’s input on what they want to spend their money on, and you can let them know if you expect them to budget any of their money toward household expenses. As always, listening to a teen is just as important as talking to them, so keep an open mind about their ideas on budgeting, but also make clear what they are expected to contribute to household expenses.
Bad credit can ruin a person’s prospects for future financial emergencies or even security in life, so it’s vital that you talk to your teen about things like credit cards and loans. Teaching them about good and bad interest rates, consequences of bad credit, and when to use credit will be a great way to start them off in life. Even as parents, people struggle with credit and knowing how to use it properly, so don’t be afraid to brush up on credit issues yourself so you can learn a little bit, too.
You’ve helped them start their first savings account, but have you had a talk with them about what they’re going to be saving for? If your teen has to pay for college themselves or wants to be more secure during their time in college, then it’s vital to help them know how much they need to realistically save. Maybe they’re thinking of buying a car. If so, you’ll want them to set save with that specific goal in mind.
Everyone needs to have a little fun in life, and fun usually costs money. Your teen will likely want to use some of their income to go out to the movies, travel a bit, or simply head out to dinner sometimes. It’s okay to teach your teens that recreational funds are important, too, even if you should direct them more toward a saving mindset. Talk to you teens about how much you believe it’s okay to use money for fun, but also remind them that they need to take care of their responsibilities first. Only when the priority expenses are taken care of is it okay to spend for fun.
Teens can be difficult to reach, but it’s not impossible to make a good impression on them and have them follow simple directions. Just speak with them honestly and from experience, and chances are good that they’ll listen, even if they don’t always follow through.