In a society and generation that not only tempts, but also pressures, parents to pull out all the stops in order to protect children from all things uncomfortable in hopes of giving them the best possible experience on this Earth imaginable, it's understandable why topics of import such as saving money slip through the cracks. The good news is that it is never too late to impart knowledge that is crucial to their adult well being. Educating your teen on how money works and encouraging them to start saving is both important and necessary. If the topic of money feels uncomfortable or taboo, read ahead. An understanding of finances plus guided practice from parents to a child is nothing short of a gift.
EDUCATE THEM ON THE BASICS OF FINANCE
The topic of money doesn’t have to be formal or intimidating. It can be as casual as recommending your teen read a book, or even listen to a podcast on the basics of saving money. With so many resources on this topic available, it can feel overwhelming. Take a deep breath. There’s no wrong way to get this ball rolling. You know your child. Do they plow through audio books? Are they an online article consumer? Meet them at their preferred medium. Do some research and make a recommendation with a follow-up plan to discuss further once they (and you) have finished.
IDENTIFY SOURCES OF INCOME
It may seem completely obvious and unnecessary to outline exactly where any and all potential cash flow comes from but think again. For someone who lacks budgeting experience, that way of thinking may be very new. Start by identifying income. If your child has a part-time job, earns money for chores, does odd jobs, etc. Lay it all out on paper so they can see this information all in one place. There are many apps available to help put this information into different graph forms, but pencil and paper can work, too. Again, know your child. Meet them where they are.
ESTABLISH GOALS SPECIFIC TO TEEN
Just when the topic of saving money starts to become a bore, remind your teen that this work is in their best interest. Reinforce that truth by establishing goals and outcomes together specific to your teen. Is there a trip they’ve been wanting to take? A piece of art they’ve been wanting to buy? Keep it specific to the child, and work to establish these goals so they know what they’re working toward.
MAKE A PLAN TOGETHER
Let your teen choose their budgeting format. If they prefer an app, let them research different apps. If they love a spreadsheet (who doesn’t?) help them to create a visual. Ultimately, give them a place to view what they’re working with, what they’re working toward, and where they’re at with meeting their goals.
Maybe the most important part of all of this is to walk the walk. Whether you’re using a cash envelope system, or a cash app card, model what saving and budgeting look like in the real world. There is no need to keep conversations around money quiet. There is no shame in messing up and trying again. Nobody is perfect at budgeting at all times, but modeling that will help remove the stigma from money talk and result in confident young adults with a handle on saving.