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Money Management For Teens
“My 18 year old son is driving me crazy. He has a great summer job and every penny he earns is spent on clothes, cell phone calls and parties. I’ve tried to get him to save some of his pay but he refuses to listen to me. How can I make him him to understand the importance of good money management?”
Talking to your teen about money management can be a thankless task. I remember my mother’s pleas years ago when she tried to encourage me to save, and I remember her advice going in one ear and out the other. The good news is that at some point I saw the light, so there is always hope!
How do you get your teen to understand the importance of starting an early savings and investment plan? As with any other communication problem with a reluctant listener, it is very important to present your discussion from their point of view. If you try to push your ideals and tell him why you think saving is important, he might just tune you out like I did years ago.
Let’s try to look at things from your teenager’s perspective and imagine some reasons why he might not want to save right now. Then let’s explore some alternatives that would convince him to reconsider the savings plan.
1. He has no knowledge of saving
The best time to teach children about savings is when they are very young and impressionable. When a child is able to understand the concept of money, the idea of saving a part of it should be brought up in a fun and easy-to-understand way.
In your case, it’s not too late to help your son learn how saving can improve his life. He may not want to save because he doesn’t really know much about the world of money. You need to revive the investments in ways that the teenager can appreciate. For example, you can send him an email introducing him to some websites that are great for learning about investing, such as http://www.investopedia.com. You can also download biographies of successful young investors from the Internet, such as the inventor of Yahoo.com, and send them to him.
2. He thinks saving will take away from him
Look back at the messages you may have sent your son about saving and spending. Was he used to hearing you say he can’t have something because you can’t afford it? Did you give him money for Christmas instead of the toy he really wanted? He may have associated austerity and austerity with not being able to get the finer things in life.
Remember, most children live for instant gratification. Now that he’s making money himself, he might decide he wants to enjoy his hard work right away. Show him that instead of denying him joy, an early savings plan can help him accumulate a lot of money that will give him many opportunities. For example, if he invested J$4,000 every month at a net interest rate of 5% and increased his savings by 10% per year, he would have more than half a million dollars by the age of 25! Search online for “savings calculator” to find a site where he can play with the numbers to see how much he should be getting from investing.
3. He thinks saving is not fun
Let’s face it, saving can seem like a chore if you don’t understand investing, and it prevents you from getting the consumer goods you really want. In the fast-paced life of a teenager, saving can seem boring. How can we “move” the investment plan?
If your child likes the idea of a challenge, why not give them a savings challenge? One option might be to see how quickly he can save to reach a particular goal. Tell him that you will match his savings if he reaches them within a certain time. One of the rules of the game is that he will have to keep it intact for at least five years.
You can also teach him about investing with the Rich Dad Cashflow 1013 board game. He and his friends can learn about investing in a fun way. I’ve also seen it available in some places in Jamaica.
Keep in mind that despite your best efforts, your son may not immediately follow your advice and start saving. However, sometime in the future he will remember his mother’s advice and start his own investment plan, just like me.
Copyright © 2006 Cherryl Hanson Simpson
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