When I was a young teenager and started making money, I recorded my earnings in a ledger and watched the money add up. I was fortunate and wasn’t expected to spend my hard earned money on clothes, books or entertainment. I just squirreled it away into a savings account or into an envelope under my mattress for a rainy day. What I didn’t expect was that my teenage savings would afford me the ability to put a down payment on my first house.
Here are some ideas that worked for me that can help your teens manage their newfound wealth:
Waiting Game. As a tween at sleep away camp, I remember wanting a purple purse that I didn’t have the money at the time to buy. I had $5 and it cost $10. My father suggested I ask the shop owner if they could hold it for me, and my parents would pay the balance when they came to pick me up. The experience taught me patience, and that waiting for something allowed me to think if I actually wanted it after all.
Parental Payday. As a teenager, I remember eagerly checking my account balance to see if my parents put a little extra in my checking account. Knowing I only had access to a certain amount of money trained me to be a good steward of money, since I didn’t know when my next payday might occur.
Learn the Hard Way. As a freshman in college, I remember being enticed by a free Frisbee to sign up for my first credit card. My initial credit card statement was a shocker. To this day, I still can’t believe how quickly all those pizzas, sodas, movies and clothes added up to my very meager spending limit. Using that credit card made it so easy to buy stuff I didn’t need and able to spend money I didn’t have. This tough lesson taught me that I should only use credit if I had the money to pay off purchases at the end of the month.
Make Conscious Money Decisions. Nowadays, I track spending online with websites such as mint.com or manila.com. These websites link my credit cards and checking accounts so I always know my credit card balance and how much I have in my checking account at any given time.
As an adult, I still carefully record my earnings and track my spending in an Excel spreadsheet and am happily living within my means.
Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom to an active 4-year-old. She is always thinking about economics and uses her time with her son as teachable moments.