What are you teaching your teen(s) and young adult children about money?
Do they knows how to save, how to earn it and how to be responsible with it?
When our kids were young, I over heard one saying to the others, “I’ll bet mom and dad are really rich and don’t want us to know and won’t share with us”. It was funny, and unfortunately untrue (would like the wealthy trial), but at the same time, they always knew they could not have anything and everything they wanted.
Teens and young adults are at a crucial time to learn the basics of economics. Why? Because without this knowledge, how can they survive on their own into adulthood and without the help of your pocketbook!
In teaching about Money #1, the topic of why our children must be expected to gradually become independent financially was discussed. Click HERE to read it.
In teaching about Money #2, methods were presented to give a child the experience and opportunities to learn to budget and grasp the value of money. Click HERE for this post.
In this post, I will present ideas to help the teen and young adult understand the importance of becoming self-supporting as they grow into adulthood.
It is important to realize the age and level of your child when we talk about then becoming self sufficient. Reasonable expectations must be kept at the forefront of the direction you are intending to go.
For example: A junior high, or middle school student should not be expected to pay for all of their own needs, such as clothing, food, school supplies and so forth. They are not be able to make the pay to cover all of their expenses.
A high school student can take on more, and should be expected to, but again, they are not in a position to care for all their needs either, such as rent/house payment, utilities, living costs and so forth.
This is something to make a matter of serious consideration. You are teaching and raising a responsible adult, not setting your child up to fail.
What and How to teach the rewards and consequences of dealing with money
Continue to teach the envelope method or whatever means that will help your child learn to live within their means.
In Teaching about Money, Part 2, I addressed giving them a set budget to work with for clothing, etc. This concept can now be added to for example for high school dances, extra curricular activities and things that now come into play as the child is older. A budget is now mandatory, allowance -or not, and being responsible with what they have is a vital skill to help them gain.
At the junior high, middle school, age the child should have more expectations from you about how they handle their money. It is taught in baby steps so they can learn, fail, achieve and succeed; just as in all other life skills.
A high school student should pay a portion of: their phone bill (if they have a cell phone), car insurance, clothing, extra curricular activities, etc.
Insist your older children have a job, at least in the summer months when school is not in session. For our family, we chose not to have our kids work regular jobs during the months school was in session so they could pay priority attention to their studies and activities they were involved in, which taught skills and provided growth for adulthood. They did work off extra chores for money when needed, or could do temporary jobs that did not interfere with their schooling.
The hard part comes into play as they get older. Say your teen wants to go to a movie with friends, though they went out last week, and spent all their reserve. It is not a necessary thing, yet fun. Now is the time to hold your ground and not give money simply because their friends are going, or they beg, plead or whine.
You could consider some options:
- They can work it off to your satisfaction and earn the money; keep in mind age appropriate expectations.
- If there is not time to work it off, you may want to consider a ‘loan’. Here is a teaching moment.
a- Write a loan agreement, simple and short, that is signed by both of you.
b- Add in interest, a small amount; just enough to help them understand the basics of a loan so they can begin to grasp the concept of loans and how they work. This will safeguard them as they learn finance from you, instead of when they have a home, car, etc., they could lose. Better to learn to avoid any unnecessary debt from the get-go. (Debt for a vehicle, home, medical usually cannot be avoided. Here we are teaching that debt for frivolous reasons, or simply the ‘I-Want-It-Now’ attitude has unsavory repercussions.)
c- Have a date in the contract of when the money is to be paid back and enforce it with extra chores that are in line with their age and ability. Never set them up to fail, but to learn and grow.
d- If this becomes a habit, help them find a suitable job or way to make money and increase the interest to an exorbitant amount to curb their desire to take out a loan. Another option is to suggest they could put some of their personal belongings on the classified ads to make the money back to pay the debt. Use good judgement here. Our goal is to help them learn a way of life that will bring a clear conscious and happiness, not to be overbearing or unduly harsh.
Give them training
As our children grew old enough to babysit, they were trained by me, or at a class, on how to calm a baby, basic first aid, helped them create a box with special toys and games to take to the home for the kids to play with, safety rules, and other pertinent information. Now they were able to babysit for other people and make a bit of money.
My husband Stan trained our boys to mow and edge a lawn properly. Then after passing his inspection, they could then offer their services to others for a cost.
We were involved in 4-H Clubs and those led to volunteer opportunities, which later led to jobs.
Scout camps were another avenue for training. A son and daughter worked as volunteers at BSA cub scout camps, which later led to scholarships.
My kids were all taught to swim (not by me), and this ability led to life guarding jobs.
Encourage them to be trained as a career or side job to do things that people do not know how, do not want to do, do not have the tools to do it them self. (I wish I owned a toilet paper company!)
One very good way to ensure your teens and young adults have a job, as well as to appreciate entrepreneurship and economics, is to help them start their own business.
Stan purchased brass stencils, a few cans of spray paint and a few necessary tools to get them started. He demonstrated and had them practice making a clean house number stencil on cardboard until it was to his satisfaction. Next, they practiced (for free of course) on a few curbs of neighbors who gave their permission. When proficient, the kids worked in pairs, for safety sake. Loading all the items in an old Radio Flyer Wagon, they went door to door offering to stencil the house number on the curb for a fair price. When one of them could drive, they loaded the wagon and supplies in the car and drove to another part of town and walked door to door there. Stan had also cleverly created specialty stencils with local high school and college logos, among other symbols such as a flag, for the resident to pay an extra fee for it, if they desired that also stenciled next to the number. They made more an hour than we did! As needed, they replenished the supplies.
Another business we set them up in, was window washing. We helped with fliers, the poles and cleaners they needed to begin. A huge part of it though was to make sure they knew how to do a really good job, not leave any streaks, no mess and make sure the home owner was satisfied. My kids haven’t done it for years now, as they are more in their career stage of life, yet I still occasionally get phone calls asking for their services because they did such a great job.
As I mentioned, my kids learned to swim. Four of the five were lifeguard certified and two taught private swim lessons at the local pool to make money.
I do have a funny story about this. I have a bit of goodies put away, such as chocolate, candy, etc., and the kids knew growing up they were not to touch it without permission. Well, it began to disappear—without my permission. It turned out my youngest son was taking the treats, cans of pop and such to sell out of his locker at the junior high! I made him pay me back and extra chores for taking without asking and then took him to the store to purchase his own goodies to sell. Every week or so, we would go shopping and he could replenish his supply. (It was not against school rules). Pretty funny story, but we did encourage his entrepreneurial spirit. Later, when he was in high school, he bought guitars that he pieced out and sold for parts. Later he bought an old iron and supplies and waxed skis in our garage.
Life Skills to save $
Teach, or trade/hire someone, to teach your kids the following:
- To sew – at least enough to mend and keep clothing in good condition
- To garden and produce food
- To cook to avoid eating out all the time saving money and is much more healthy
- How to clean!
- To fix and repair things
- Even if you need to flip the bill, help your child have a ‘blue color’ job so-to-speak, to supplement their later college costs, to make extra money when needed for medical costs, anything really. For example: help them enroll in high school classes or the local technical college to learn some welding, carpentry, how to lay tile, mechanics, cosmetology, cake decorating, anything they are interested in and can make money with specialized training.
- Help them learn how to keep a checkbook, a debit or credit card and to balance their account.
Life Skills for a Happy and Successful Life:
Motivation Do not provide anything that the older teen/young adult SHOULD be providing for them self. It takes the drive out of their soul to do things on their own.
Communication This is a ‘no-text-zone’, lol. Teach, talk, demonstrate. Make sure your child can converse in an articulate manner for healthy relationships with friends, at work, etc. Role play, find resources; whatever is needed to promote this very crucial life skill.
Positive Attitude Mirror this in your own life. As you stretch beyond your comfort level, look for the good in life, in others and show that you are sincerely happy. Your kids will most likely adopt these traits also.
Practical Application Help your teen/young adult apply common sense to daily situations. This will help them avoid scams and possibly destructive situations as well as dire consequences. Do not be shy to bring up uncomfortable subjects, again age appropriate, of situations that they most likely will encounter and the tools to know how to deal with them.
Service In my opinion this is as critical as all the other ideas here. Provide service opportunities that are for no pay, no recognition and simple for the benefit of another. For example: My kids were all expected to babysit for others for free when it involved a service the parents were doing. When my youngest son was completing his Eagle project for Scouts, my other son was learning to weld in high school, and helped complete the project with his talent, without pay. If an elderly person, or one who could not physically do it, they would help do yard work, wash windows, mow lawns, and such for no cost; simply to help another person have a better day. Be sure you make these service opportunities happen.
Teaching these principles helps them understand they can do things on their own, they can fix and take care of things, which makes them feel empowered to go beyond what they know.
Provide growth opportunities so they will gain a ‘can-do’ attitude: which is: ‘if I can’t do it, I can learn it’ or find sources to teach and help me, without calling mom or dad for every little thing.
All this results in money in the bank and unparallelled confidence of what they can achieve. An independent, responsible, individual is the reward!
Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money, Part 1
Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money, Part 2
Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money, Part 4
Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.