You want your teen to live a healthy lifestyle and that includes, physical and mental health, academic success and healthy financial habits. Not every parent thinks about financial lessons, but those are just as important as the rest.
Financial literacy isn’t a course taught in school, and maybe you’re not that money savvy either, but that’s not something you want to pass generation to generation. A positive relationship with money will help your child become the most successful she can be, so if you haven’t started the conversation, today’s the day. There are some small steps you can take to make a big difference.
Headed to the bank? Bring your teen with! Your kids learn from you, so if you’re headed to the bank, that might be the perfect way to get the conversation started. Introduce your kids to banking, by explaining all the banking tools you use. Talk through why a checking account and savings account are important. Explain what you’re doing as you do it and show them the completed deposit slip so your teens become more familiar with the process.
Talk real numbers. You don’t have to get into the details, but start to discuss some of the larger financial responsibilities you have so your teen understands what it entails. He should get a sense of how much you may pay for a car or the cost of your mortgage. Once your kids hit high school and start driving, car ownership may be a topic to really hit home for them.
Has your teen hit the workforce? If your teenager has a job, it’s even more important to get her comfortable with managing money. At this point, it might be time for a simple budget. If there’s a template you follow, show her that. Or start with a simple list of how much is coming in, what bills she may be responsible for, and how much she’d like to spend a month.
It might be time for a checking account. Particularly, if your teenager is going to start working, or will be heading off to college, it’s time for a student checking account. These accounts are like having training wheels; you can still oversee the account, but your teen will start to get a feel for what it’s like to manage his money. It’s important to explain that he should get into the habit of monitoring his account and set limits on spending. One way to help encourage saving, is to match a percentage of what’s in the account at the end of the month or quarter.
Talk about credit versus debit. If you’ve ever gotten a little over your head with a credit card, then you know this is an important talk to have. Explain that credit cards are a way to borrow money that you’ll pay back and then some. So, you should stress to your teen that she shouldn’t spend what she doesn’t have!
Make sure your teen understands that credit history follows you for the rest of your life. Credit cards are a good way to establish good credit as long as they are paid off each month. If mismanaged, it’s harder to turn bad credit around.
Also, be sure that your teenager understands the difference between credit cards and debit cards. Your child needs to understand that a debit card is linked to a bank account, and money will be taken directly from there.
Your kids can’t afford to miss out on financial life lessons. And, there are plenty opportunities for them to learn. So, have the conversations about money early and often and you’ll be setting your teenager up for financial success!