Teaching Teenagers To Manage Money Well.
It’s so important for kids to learn how to manage their own money from a young age. I truly believe if we teach them to do this while they are young, they will have much less money problems when they get older. And this is the reason why I think that an allowance for teens can be a great teaching tool.
Perrsonally, I begin giving my kids an allowance at age 8. You can read more about my reasoning why they receive an allowance and how much I give them here.
Once my kids turn 13 their allowance is increased, but they are also required to pay for most of their own clothes and a few other expenses. This is an important teaching tool to help prepare them for the adult world.
Why An Allowance?
I know many of you might be wondering why an allowance for teens is a good idea. This is honestly a question I get a lot, and I understand the confusion.
An allowance is not a handout.
Let me repeat, An allowance is not a handout.
If done the right away, giving your teenager an allowance is not going to spoil them, make them lazy, or teach them to look for handouts (these are all things I’ve been told when I tell people my kids get an allowance).
Let me explain using this example:
Child without an allowance comes to me and says, “Will you buy me these $50 pair of jeans?” My response would probably be, “Those are to expensive, let’s try to find something cheaper.”
This child might learn two things from this moment:
- Mom is cheap and won’t let me buy what I want.
- Mom gets to decide what is worth spending money on, not me.
But, if your teenager is given an allowance along with the responsibility to buy their own clothing the situation could go like this:
Child with an allowance comes to me and says, “Mom, I really want to buy these $50 jeans, but that would take all of my money. Do you think I could fine them cheaper somewhere else?”
In this situation the child is learning to:
- Make their own decisions about how to spend their money.
- Deciding for themselves what items are splurge worthy.
Either way the money for the jeans is still coming from the moms pocket, but with the allowance the child is able to learn how to manage their money themselves.
So, this afternoon I had a fun shopping trip with my 13 year old daughter. I happen to love shopping (yep, frugal AND a shopping lover!) and I love quality time with my kids, so it was a GREAT day!
However, shopping trips with my daughter tend to bring some stress (for me) and anxiety (for her). Read more below for what happened today….
My daughter has inherited my frugal ways…..to the extreme. She hates to spend money, it actually gives her a little bit of anxiety to even consider spending any money…..and I get stressed because there are times when she NEEDS to spend her money, and I wish that she would.
Spending money is part of living…..I mean….we all need to wear clothes, right?!?!?. It’s important for kids to learn that spending isn’t the problem, over spending is the problem.
Today’s Shopping Trip
So, today we were on a mission. My daughter had a list, and she wanted to buy it all….without spending a lot of money.
I, on the other hand, wanted her to buy everything on the list without feeling any anxiety or guilt.
Our list included: 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of track shoes, a dress, and a swimsuit.
It was QUITE the tall order for my daughter the saver, but we were determined to make it happen!
I let her make the decisions about where to go (she chose the discount store Ross and the second hand store Runway Fashion), what to buy, and how much to spend.
She thought carefully about each decision, she calculated and recalculated how much she was spending, she said no to many things and yes to a few things. I was a proud mama as I stood by and watched!
A few times she looked at me for advice, and I would always reply with the same questions; “Do you NEED it? Do you LOVE it? Will you WEAR it often? Is it WORTH the money?” As I walked her through these questions she was able to feel confident in her decisions.
The Perfect Shoes
Three hours later we ended the day at the mall sipping on Jamba Juice and feeling proud to have found everything on the list, all at the right price (yay!).
While at the mall we noticed a store having a big going out of business sale. Ignoring my advice about spending triggers, we decided to pop in for a quick browse. This is where my daughter excitedly proclaimed that she had found “the perfect shoes”…..and I’ll admit, they were pretty darn cute!
The price was right, the fit was perfect, and she was smitten…..but they weren’t on her list…..she didn’t need them….and she was feeling a lot of anxiety and guilt about buying them.
My sweet daughter worried that she shouldn’t make this purchase, she didn’t want to waste her money and spend unwisely.
I assured her that she has always been wise with her money, she saves a large sum of her allowance each month, she always pays her tithing, she still has plenty of money in her “spending” jar…..and it is OK to spend a little bit of money on something that just makes you happy!
So. She bought the shoes! You better believe this frugal-tight-wad-mom was so proud of her for making that decision!
And….guess what, she has been on cloud 9 all day because of it! The shoes haven’t left her feet, she’s been showing them to everyone in the family and has been pairing them with different outfits.
THIS is why we give teens allowance.
Today, I kept my mouth shut and let my daughter take control of her shopping experience. She made the decision to only buy used or discounted clothes. It was up to her to decide what was “splurge” worthy and what wasn’t. She learned to budget, she learned to say no, and she learned to say yes.
She was able to come home with less money in her pocket, but also a feeling of accomplishment and confidence.
This is a girl who is preparing for the adult world of spending.
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