The following post is by staff writer Melissa Batai
“Mom, I HAVE to have these jeans. The other ones look cheap, and all the other kids are wearing these jeans.”
“Why can’t I have a phone? All of my other friends have phones!”
If you’re the parent of a tween or teen, you may hear these types of comments frequently. Today’s teens and tweens are more electronically connected than ever before. “More than three-quarters of all teens own cellphones, according to a 2011 study conducted by Pew Internet and American Life Project. This is an increase from the 45 percent of teens who owned cellphones in 2004” (The Washington Post).
Tweens today are surrounded by peers who are given what they ask for. Your child may find it completely normal to ask for the same items her friends ask for and get, even if such items are out of your budget.
If you’d like to raise a financially independent child, the best way to do so is to start now.
My oldest child is only ten, but we’re already taking steps to help him gain financial independence and money smarts.
Make him work for his money. Some people don’t like to tie chores to money. Instead, they prefer to give their child a weekly allowance. My son also gets an allowance, but how much he gets depends on how much work he does. He has to do three chores around the house every day. If those don’t get done, he doesn’t earn money that day. If he goes out of his way and does more chores than are expected, he gets a bonus. This type of system is a great way to teach children that to make money, you must do work. When you’re an adult, no one gives you money for free.
Help her learn to manage her money. My son has to put 10% away for investing for college, 10% for long-term savings, and 10% for donation. The other 70% is his to keep for spending. I’ll admit, the teenage version of myself would not be happy with this strategy. When I was a teen, I thought every dollar I earned was mine to spend as I liked, and spend I did. I want my son to grow up knowing that he must set aside money for the future, for an emergency fund, for investing. Now is the time to start that training.
Let your child pay some of their expenses. I recently had the privilege of hearing Steve and Annette Economides speak. They are the authors of the book, The MoneySmart Family System: Teaching Financial Independence to Children of Every Age. Once their children turn 11, they let them manage some of their own expenses. For instance, at age 11, their children are responsible for buying their own clothing out of their spend money. Obviously, the kids need to learn how to bargain shop if they want to still have money left to spend on fun things.
The Economides teach their kids to shop for clothes at garage sales and Goodwill, especially Goodwill half price days. You can bet a child who has to pay for many of his own expenses will begin to value money more and ask for fewer expensive items like designer clothes and smart phones.
My Question for You
How are you teaching your teens and tweens to be financially savvy? Do you make them put aside money to save? Do you, like the Economides, make them pay some of their own expenses, or do you think that is too harsh?