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Everyday Cheapskate

Teach Teens About Money

By Mary Hunt

Got teens? Then you already know that what they want most is for you to trust them. And though you may not be ready to hand over all decisions to them, there is a way that you can begin to develop trust in a way that will make the adolescent years easier while developing their character and maturity.
If you trust your teens with some amount of money and then allow them to make their own independent financial decisions on a level commensurate with their ages and abilities, you will address the five key motivators that influence kids:
Power. Knowing their parents trust them with money empowers kids, particularly teens, to control some of their environments. This encourages maturity. It develops the ability to make good decisions.
Freedom. Managing their own money gives teens the freedom they want to make their own decisions, but it gives it to them gradually, as they are able to handle it. Just make sure that your teens are clearly aware of your family’s values when it comes to clothing, entertainment and similar things. Freedom does not mean unbridled behavior. It means knowing the rules and boundaries and then being trusted to live and operate within them. Kids want to know the limits. That gives them a sense of security.
Fun. Teens think managing money and being responsible for how they spend it (or don’t) is fun. Makes sense. Money is a precious commodity, and having the freedom to choose how to spend it can be fun. Allowing a teen to experience this sense of joy that comes with having money is a good thing. It’s even better when done while that teen is still within the safety net of his/her parents and home.
Belonging. A teenager’s participation in managing the family’s financial resources creates a sense of community. Teens need to belong and to know they are important parts of things that are bigger than themselves. Just watch your teen mature before your eyes as he/she comes to realize that with this privilege comes responsibility.
Mastery. Once your young adult understands the significance of his/her role as a money manager, that teen will be open to concepts such as compounding interest, consumer debt, handling a checking account or credit card, and the basics of investing. Fortunately, teaching does teach the teacher.
Our role as parents is to know our children, to discover their gifts and abilities, and to encourage and train them in keeping with those characteristics and tendencies. Money is an excellent tool to help get the job done. As a bonus, your children will go into the real world well-equipped to manage effectively the resources entrusted to them.
Be forewarned: The hardest part in all of this is to allow your teen to make his/her own financial decisions and then take a complete hands-off approach. That means requiring your teen to live with the consequences of those decisions. Just like real life.
Mary Hunt is the founder of and author of 18 books, including her latest, “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?” You can e-mail her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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