Most parents desire their teenagers to be a wealth of financial savvy – saving crazily and spending wisely. However, the reality is that at this point in their lives, our teenagers may not hold the same affinity to become financially stable adults.

My teenager is a case in point. He is a content young man who has worked enough to save up some money (primarily due to us, his parents, telling him to save). However, he also has access to his checking account, and debit card. Knowing that it was time for him to start keeping track of his money, I sought out an app for him to use on his smartphone. While there are a wealth of apps available, I found that many are too intricate to help a teenager track his very modest income and expenses. Below are some guidelines to help your teens start a basic financial tracking of their mone 

  1. Keep it simple! Even if your teenager works a part time job, most likely, they only have a few bills that are their responsibility. They need very basic income and expense categories. My son currently has about four expense categories. It is a good place to start, and it helps him see where his money is going. We found an app (Easy Spend) that has the basics perfect for his style. There are plenty of apps out there, but the key is to find an easy, simple format.
  2. Keep it safe. We want to ensure that our kids can safely track their money without cyber intrusion. Doing just a little bit of research on the company that produces your app of choice can help you safeguard your teen’s information. Also, discuss identity theft with your teen and educate them on risks. They are young and sometimes too trusting. Having discussions on keeping their wallets safe, their IDs inaccessible to others, and their debit cards secure are a good foundation for safety.
  3. Help them become spending savvy. The hope is that if you give your teen freedom, they can learn good spending habits early in life. While you are still available for assisting, let your teens make mistakes and learn from their spending habits while they are young, and you are there to engage them in useful discussions. At birthdays and holidays, help them set goals for spending and see if they stick to them. When they want to buy their fast food, let them see how quickly those stops can add up. If they want to purchase games, let them see how much those expenses add up over time. If they handle small amounts wisely, the hope is that as they mature they will develop valuable life skills that will carry over into the young adult years.

Teens need to become aware of how to track their expenses in easy ways without being inundated with all of the expenses that come in our adults years. If they can learn to balance their finances as teenagers, they will build a foundation of skills that will enable them to make more independent decisions into adulthood.

Guest Contributer: Ester Johnson, AFC®

December 08, 2015

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