How to Get Your Teen to Care About Managing Money

Getting your teens to care about managing money and taking control of their own financial decisions may be a bit like getting them to eat their vegetables or put on sunscreen. You know it’s the right thing for them, but it may be hard to get them to care about it.

From my experience of teaching personal finance classes to high schoolers, they may not be excited about budgeting and saving, but they are enthusiastic about the idea of independence and the ability to buy what they want.

Here are a few ideas that will help your teen care about learning to manage money:

• Independence: There is very little that a teenager wants more than the feeling of independence and freedom. While college may give them some of this freedom that they crave, help them understand that a big part of becoming an adult and living independently is being able to pay for everyday expenses along with wants and needs.

• Wish List: Every teen has their eye on something they would love to buy next. Whether it’s a new phone, new clothes, or something big, like a new car, almost every teen has a shopping list that exceeds their bank account. Help them use this wish list as a reason to start saving money over time so that they can buy whatever they have their eye on.

• Building Wealth: While frugality and budgeting may not sound desirable to teenagers, they absolutely have an interest in building wealth. While their goals of a new car, a house of their own, and international travel may be a bit lofty, learning to save towards these goals will hopefully instill in them the basic financial skills of spending less than they earn and saving some of the difference towards future goals.

• Your Retirement: Having your kids learn basic money, budgeting, and planning skills before they head off to college is not only necessary for them – it’s necessary for you too. More and more parents are finding themselves delaying their retirements so that they can keep funding their adult children’s lifestyles. The earlier that students can learn to plan for the future and stop relying on the bank of Mom and Dad, the better.

“From my experience of teaching personal finance classes to high schoolers, they may not be excited about budgeting and saving, but they are enthusiastic about the idea of independence and the ability to buy what they want.”

The road to a solid financial foundation is built through good habits, enacted over and over, day after day, and year after year. While these concepts may not fully resonate with your teen till they’re older, introducing them in an appealing way now will help set teens on the right path.

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Libby Magliolo

Libby Magliolo, an alumna of the SMU Cox MBA program, leads a Southwest Airlines sales training team. Outside of work, she teaches teens and college students about personal finance fundamentals.

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