Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Financial Literacy for Kids: Teaching Teens About Money

Welcome to The Finance Gym Action Plan for a Better Life with Money video series. My name is Stacey Powell, and if you’re ready not just to know better but do better with your money, then you’ve come to the right place.

So lately we’ve been creating videos about our relationship with money. Today, we’re talking about teenagers and their relationship with money and how we can have an impact on it.

I have long been a proponent of “money date night”. It’s what I did to help myself pull myself out of the horrid financial mess I was in years ago. My last video talked about couples having money “date night”. So today we’re going to talk about this thing that I started doing with my daughter when she was a teenager called “teenage money date night”.

When she was young – I was in the midst of my financial nightmare – and because of that, I think I probably gave her a lot of mixed messages and wasn’t a great teacher about money.

By the time she became a teenager, I had come quite a long way in my own learning and doing. I felt like I had a lot of time, which I needed to make up for.

So we started doing teenage money date night. Part of it was to make up, and part of it was because I was writing a book and I wanted to test things out on her to see how they would work.

So we would get gelato, go to a coffee shop, and have teenage money date nights. I was honest. The dates weren’t all sunshine and roses. There were tears at some of them. But we did it. We created this conversation. I did my best to be non-judgmental about her financial decisions. I did my best to teach, but not lecture her. I did my best to listen to her fears and say, “Yeah, I have those fears,” and I did my best not to sound like a know-it-all even though I know a lot about money.

Here’s how I did it. I was honest with her about the mistakes that I’ve made. It became more of a joint effort than me saying, “This is how you should take care of your money, and you aren’t doing this.”

Can you think about a time when you were teaching your kid to ride their bike and took the training wheels off their bike? They probably fell once, twice, maybe more. Did we yell at our little kids when they fell off their bike? Did we look disappointed? Did we try to act like we weren’t disappointed, but they could see through the fact that we were?

When it comes to money, we want so badly for our kids not to suffer the same things we suffered. So our judgment sometimes comes through, even if we’re trying not to show them. I think that’s one of the really important things about teaching your teenager about money.

Teenage date night changed a lot for my daughter and her money. I like to look at things still with training wheels. I have this deal with my daughter. She’s 21 right now, and I have what I call “training wheel savings” for her. I require her to give me a certain amount of money every month, and I put it in a separate savings account. It’s her money, but she doesn’t have control over it. I'll tell you what. Every time something goes wrong with her car, she’s so grateful for having those training wheels.

So when you think about your kids, no matter what age they are – she lets me call it “teenage money date night” even though she’s no longer a teenager. Think about what kind of things you could do to help your kids have a smoother path than maybe you had with money.

If you would like to talk about this more, come on over to our Facebook group Team Do Better. You’re welcome to ask me questions there, and I will answer, and everybody else will appreciate watching as well. Sign up for our newsletter at or subscribe to these videos right here. Now, have a talk with your teenager.

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