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Money Management For Teens
“My 18 year old son is driving me crazy. He has a great summer job and every cent he earns is spent on clothes, cell phone calls and parties. I’ve tried to get him to save some of his pay but he refuses to listen to me. Like me can make him understand the importance of good money management?”
Talking to your teen about money management can be a thankless task. I remember my mother’s pleas several years ago when she tried to encourage me to save, and I remember her advice going in one ear and out the other. The good news is that once I saw the light, so there is always hope!
How can you get your teen to understand the importance of starting an early savings and investment plan? As with any other communication issue with a reluctant listener, it is important to present your discussion from their point of view. If you try to impose your ideals and tell him why you think it is vital to save, he may just resent you like I did many years ago.
Let’s try to look at things from your teenager’s perspective and imagine some of the reasons why he might not want to save at this time. Then let’s examine some alternatives that would persuade him to reconsider a savings plan.
1. He does not know about salvation
The best time to teach children about savings is when they are very young and impressionable. Once a child is able to grasp the concept of money, the idea of saving some of it should be instilled in ways that are fun and easy to understand.
In your case, it’s not too late to help your son learn how saving can improve his life. He may not want to save because he really doesn’t know much about the world of money. You have to make investing come alive to him in ways that a teenager can appreciate. For example, you can send him an email that introduces him to some websites that are great for learning about investing, such as http://www.investopedia.com. You can also download biographies on the internet about successful young investors like the inventor of Yahoo.com and forward to him.
2. He thinks saving will get him out
Look at the messages you may have sent your son about saving and spending. Is he used to hearing you say he can’t get something because you couldn’t afford it? Did you give him money for Christmas instead of the toy he really wanted? He may have associated being thrifty and saving with an inability to have the finer things in life.
Remember that most children live for instant gratification. Now that he’s making his own money, he might decide he wants to enjoy his hard work right away. Show him that instead of depriving him of pleasure, an early savings plan can help him accumulate a lot of money that will give him many opportunities. For example, if he invested 4,000 J$ per month at a net interest rate of 5%, and increased his savings amount by 10% per year, when he is 25 years old he would have more than half a million dollars! Search online for “savings calculator” to find a site where he can play with the numbers to see how much he has to earn from investing.
3. He thinks saving is no fun
Let’s face it – savings can feel like a chore if you don’t understand investing and it prevents you from getting the consumer goodies you really want. In the fast-paced life of a teenager, saving can seem boring. How can we “jump” the investment plan?
If your child likes the idea of a challenge, why not issue them a savings challenge? One option might be to see how quickly he can save to reach a specific goal. Tell him that you will match his savings if he reaches it in a particular time. One of the rules of the game is that he will have to keep it untouched for at least five years.
You can also teach him about investing with the board game “Rich Dad”, “Cash Flow 1013. He and his friends can learn about investing in an exciting way. I also saw it available at some places in Jamaica.
Remember that despite all your best efforts, your son may not immediately follow your advice and start saving. However, sometime in the future he will remember his mother’s advice and start his investment plan, just like I did.
Copyright © 2006 Cherryl Hanson Simpson
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