There comes a time in every parent’s life when they have to take a deep breath and sit down with their teenage son or daughter for a frank discussion about… yep, money. For while the biological facts of life are pretty fundamental, getting a handle on being financially responsible is far more complex, especially for hormonal teens, driven by peer pressure and constantly lusting after the latest clothes and gadgets. Teaching your children about the importance of financial planning is just as important as teaching them about family planning – and will hopefully lead to fewer bailout loans from the Bank of Mum & Dad.
State of independence
There is no independence without financial independence. For any youngster, it’s all about being in control of his or her own destiny (or at least feeling as if they’re in control – even if Mum and Dad are still their personal chef, cleaner and taxi driver). Giving a child full control of their own budget is an important step on their path to self-sufficiency.
Do you remember the fable The Ant and the Grasshopper? The grasshopper larks about all summer while the ant diligently works to store food for the winter… budgeting provides a similar lesson in the virtues of hard work and planning for the future. Learning to set goals and put in place the steps to achieve those goals is a vital skill, one crucial to happiness in every aspect of life.
Sense of worth
There is no better way for a person to learn about the true value of money than by spending his or her own money. When there’s hard work and tight budgeting behind the purchase of a new pair of expensive sneakers, they are all the more precious than if they magically appeared with the swipe of Mum or Dad’s plastic. And along with a greater appreciation of their possessions, your children will also get a boost to their own self-worth, for being trusted to control their own finances.
By learning to budget, a teenager learns about setting personal barriers and resisting temptation. Yes, that app that all their friends are playing is cool and is only $10, but that’s $10 that they won’t have to spend on socialising come the weekend. Allocating money to specific targets is a great lesson in avoiding unnecessary waste.
Set your children on the road to better budgeting by:
- Lead by example: Sit down and go through the family budget with your child, so they can see where the family funds are allocated. If they can see the true cost of running the household, it might just make them more appreciative of all your hard work (sorry, can’t promise this, but you never know your luck).
- Make money part of everyday life: Once they’ve got their head around the family budget, let them have a go at controlling it. Hand over the reins of the family shopping for a week. Or if you don’t feel up to risking eating takeaway pizza seven nights in a row, how about starting small by allowing your child to plan for a family day out? Give them the money, and allow them to figure out how to spend it.
- Make them earn their keep: Earning money feels even better than spending it, so encourage your child to get a part-time job. Once they know they have a regular income, they will be able to budget and save for big-ticket items.
- Children know more than parents about the Internet and computers, so getting them to save and plan online will be a cinch. Get them to explore the different types of accounts that banks have and their benefits, so they can make the most of their savings.
Louisa Sanghera is a Finance Broker for Residential Mortgages, Vehicle and Asset Finance, Commercial Lending and Budgeting and Cashflow Coaching with Zippy Financial.
She has gained more than 30 years in the Banking and Finance Industry, and since founding Zippy Financial, has become a multi-award-nominated expert in the field of finance featuring regularly in industry press and speaking at finance and investment seminars across the country.