Cars, college, sports, work. All of these take commitment and focus to excel in them. Cars, college and sports can also cost you money. While working provides you with money, it may not cover all of your expenses. The teen years are a great time to learn and practice more complex financial management skills, while still having help from your parents to make sure you succeed.
Learning by example is one way a teenager can succeed. Allow teens to watch and ask questions as you pay bills, comparison-shop for best prices, or visit the Credit Union to obtain information on loans or other products. Additional key areas to teach your teen are:
If your teen isn't a member of the credit union, this is the perfect time to begin a savings account. Use of a savings account can teach your teen how to earn dividends, use of an ATM card, and prepare them for making decisions in the future. It can also help in the future when they want to get a vehicle or educational loan.
Budgeting is one of the core philosophies of good financial planning. During the teen years, they learn the difference between a "want" and a "need." A good way to start a budget is to list all income (from part-time job wages to holiday gifts), then short-term goals (clothing, etc.) and long-term goals (a car, college, etc.). Your teen can then develop a savings and spending plan. Teaching your teen to contribute to charities teaches them the ideals of sharing their money.
Many teens begin a part-time job, and no matter how small the income, it is always exciting. It is also the time to teach them an important lifelong habit of saving. Save a portion of everything you earn.
Many times teens take the number of hours they work, times it by the amount per hour, and expect on that first Friday paycheck to receive that exact amount. This is the perfect time to teach your teen about taxes. Discuss income taxes and deadlines, and if necessary, help your teen file an income tax return online or by mail.
Endless amounts of money at their fingertips. That is what many teens believe when they see credit cards in action. However, at this age, it is important to teach your teen about living within their means. It may even be a good idea to help your teen apply for a credit card with a low limit, helping them to learn about credit cards and establishing credit for the future. Credit ratings are important in today's financial landscape, so teaching your teens about www.annualcreditreport.com and how to protect their ratings with on time payments and responsible use is important.
Online scams, prices that seem too good to be true? Teens need to be aware of basic safety rules: Never provide personal financial information without being absolutely sure of who you're dealing with. Be aware of online risks. Use caution when carrying cash and credit cards in public.
The ultimate goal is to teach your teen to handle their finances responsibly and wisely. When a teen sets a goal, works toward it, and attains the goal, they are better prepared not only with financial management but all aspects of adulthood.
We're here to help. NSWC Federal Credit Union is a great resource. As a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution, a primary focus of our Credit Union is education. Feel free to visit any of our four locations in Fredericksburg and King George or online at www.nswcfcu.org.
Samantha P. Romano
NSWC Federal Credit Union
Information contributed from National Association of Federal Credit Unions, an independent trade association representing federally chartered credit unions nationwide.