“It’s amazing that parents get angry with their teens and adult children for not using a credit card wisely, but those same parents have invested nothing into helping their child understand anything about personal finance,” says Eva Baker, the founder of the blog TeensGotCents.
Baker is well-versed on the importance of teaching kids about money, since she is a teen herself. Her own mother has encouraged her efforts to learn about money, and blog about what she’s learned in order to help more teenagers learn about the importance of developing good money habits as early as possible.
Do you talk to your kids about money? When was the last time you helped them save towards a goal, or talked about the importance of budgeting? Do you model good financial behavior as a family?
What Lessons Do You Teach Your Teens?
As my son approaches his teenage years, I’m thinking more about what I teach him concnerning money. We’ve been careful to help him learn how to plan for purchases, save money, and give money to charity. Now, we’re starting to help him learn how to invest, and talking about what makes a good investment.
However, I realize that I haven’t taught my son much about credit so far. He doesn’t have a good handle on debt and credit, and he doesn’t really get what it’s about. This can be dangerous if he grows up and has to figure credit and debt out for himself.
Once, a couple of years ago, we let him borrow against his allowance for something, and we showed him that he would have to pay interest. He made payments each week for a month to repay us, but that lesson was a long time ago, and I’m not sure how effective it was.
“Being purposeful in teaching their children how to handle money and credit wisely is a necessity,” says Baker, of parents. I admit that, so far, there hasn’t been a lot of purpose in the way I’ve taught my son about money, and spending.
So I hope to approach it more consistently going forward. He’s reaching a time in his life when good habits can be developed — and bad habits can be as well.
Be Careful About Adding Financial Responsibility
As you teach your kids and teens to use money, especially credit, it’s important to be careful about adding financial responsibility.
For example; you don’t want to add your child as an authorized user to your credit card and let him or her have unlimited access to your funds. Instead, make sure they understand what’s happening, and that they take responsibility.
Often, this means laying the groundwork ahead of time. Help them progress in steps so they don’t become overwhelmed. Another concern is that they don’t have a good grasp of how money works, and then end up in trouble.
Talk about credit, and show your child how to use it responsibly, paying off the loans as soon as possible. Use your own student loans or car loans as examples. Real world application will allow them learn a lot better.
It’s up to you, as a parent, to teach good financial principles and then help your child put those into action.
Your kids won’t learn how to manage money on their own; if you don’t make it a point to teach your kids, they will likely make poor money decisions. “If a child is terrible with money,” Baker points out, “it’s possible that the parent is a big part of that problem.”
What kind of financial habits are you helping your kids and teens develop? How can you prepare them for good money habits as adults?