8 Ways to Teach Your Tween or Teen Good Money Habits
Sure, the bad economy is all over the news these days. But if you have normal teenagers or tweenagers, they might not take their earbuds out long enough to notice if the recession has hit home. However, if your budget belt has tightened, your kids are affected, too. For many households, that means consolidating, downsizing and outright tossing some goods and services that might not have been considered luxury items until recently. So, here are eight ways to get your teen or tween out of your wallet, while getting them on the road to their own financial responsibility.
Begin budgeting early. As a parent, it's never too early to demonstrate responsible spending and staying within boundaries. Set the example for your kids, no matter how hard it is. If they see you spending within your means, they're more likely to follow suit. With teens, adopting a hard-and-fast rule is usually best: When the allowance money's gone, it's gone!
Take advantage of the "bundled services" options available in this high-tech age. Trade all the different wireless providers you have under your roof and sign up for a family plan like AT&T FamilyTalk
. Then explain to your teen how saving money with a plan works best for your family's needs. Hopefully, it won't be too long till your teen starts to pay it forward (and starts paying her own phone bill!).
Collect loose change. It sounds almost too simple, but few things add up quicker than the old-fashioned piggy bank method. Dropping your loose change in a container will help your kid accumulate extra loot faster than he thinks. Tell your kid he can keep whatever change he finds—under seat cushions, on the sidewalk, in the car or even in the washer/dryer. All that can add up to some serious coinage. Your teen can then take those rolled up coins to the bank or use the coin-counting machines at local supermarkets and cash them in for greenbacks. Ka-ching!
Encourage cheap eats. One of the easiest places your family can cut costs is in snacking and dining out with friends. For teens, eating out of boredom or just because everyone else is eating can be a surefire cash killer. If you keep your house stocked with fresh fruits, veggies and healthy snacks-to-go, it can be cheaper than grabbing something off the fast-food Dollar Menu!
Discover secondhand stores. Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places for you and your kids to go and refresh your wardrobe or add a few basic items. Your teen can score still-with-the-tags-on clothing, uncover a hot designer piece, or even develop a new vintage-hipster swagger.
Find odd jobs. Every household and neighborhood has chores that need to be done. Washing dishes or windows, yard work, cleaning drains and gutters, babysitting, taking out the trash or dog walking, might not be totally glam, but hey, somebody's gotta do it. And if that somebody is your teen, his pockets may soon be lined with some extra loot.
Try bartering. Another old-timey trend that's making a comeback is the barter system. Say your teen is a tech whiz: He could offer up his crazy computer skills in exchange for something he really wants. Good trade.
Set goals. Stress to your kid that a little savings go a long way. Even if your teen or tween feels like a dollar here and there isn't enough to get by, do the math together: Saving just $10 each month nets $120 a year; and though it's not a massive sum, it's enough to put toward something your kid really wants, like a prom dress, cell phone or that fly pair of kicks. If you break it down, that's just $2.50 a week—which is really just one less latte or two fewer music downloads a week. If your kid complains, ask her which is more important, the short-term satisfaction or the long-term goal. When you start putting money in those terms, it can encourage good spending habits that'll keep you both grounded—and sane!