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They are four years old one day and 34 the next. And we don’t mean that time flies. We mean teenagers are all over the map in terms of their maturity.
Once they get past age 12, they are adults in training. As the grown-up of the house, it’s your job to teach them what they need to know so they can survive on their own when it’s time to move out. If you don’t prepare them for that, then don’t make plans to remodel their bedroom. They’ll still need it.
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You are the parent, so act like it. Sit down with your kids one by one and show them how to make a budget. Find out what they spend their money on and work out a plan with them. Don’t make it for them. Let them give mature input. Let them know that this budget is theirs. If something is out of whack, you can correct it, but you’re not babying them. You are letting them set their own priorities. Make sure that they know that.
Teach them about having long-term savings goals. At this age, their own car is probably the first thing on their minds. If they want one, they can pay for it. Both of you should put down in the budget what they should save each month, and for how long, before they have enough to pay cash for a ride. Early exposure to goal setting helps to give them patience and vision, two things they’ll need in life.
This should be a given, but no credit cards! A teen with a credit card is only slightly less dangerous than one with a loaded gun. Don’t fill their brains with that “you need a card to build your credit” crap. That’s for people who want to make a life habit of borrowing money. Break that cycle before it even gets started by teaching them to not borrow.
The great thing about teaching a teenager to properly handle money is that the feeling of responsibility spills over into other areas of life. Money is important to a teenager, so someone who is careful with how much they spend won’t carelessly hang out with the wrong crowd or be foolish about not making grades in school. That sense of accountability will permeate their lives and help them behave.
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It’s all right if your kids don’t think you’re cool because you are on their case about money. A parent who is most concerned about being liked by their kids isn’t a parent. He or she is more like a jellyfish. Neither has a backbone.
Love your kids enough to properly teach them about being adults. If they are deeply in debt with a marriage hanging by a thread in 30 years, what are you going to say? “Sorry, son, that I didn’t teach you better … but at least you thought I was cool when you were a teen!”
Check out Dave Ramsey's tools for helping you teach your teen responsibility with money.
How did you talk to your teen about money? Tell us in the comments.