With the holidays just around the corner, adults tend to start thinking about the spending that comes with this time of year. Whether it is the food, travel, decorations, or gifts … it can be a lot. Seems like a perfect time to get the teens on board with some of the same thought patterns!
Basically, I am saying it could be time for your adolescent to start taking control and overseeing their own money management. Why? – to get off the parental payroll, of course! (lol) No, seriously … it is so teenagers can start developing responsible habits for adulthood related to their own financial destiny. Start with banking and HELP TEENS OPEN & USE A BANK ACCOUNT.
It sounds so basic, but I will never forget the day my two teens opened their first account and started on the path to money managing. They loved saving for something special and sometimes it wasn’t even for themselves (i.e., a holiday gift for someone else). So many discussions stemmed from this one activity (e.g., pros and cons of debit and credit card, differences in checking, savings, & money market accounts, interest rates. credit unions vs. traditional banks, bill pay, loans, and more) … a huge step towards them becoming independent adults! You can have the same experience.
Parents sometimes avoid the topic of money with children for a variety of reasons—trying to protect kids, to hide their own failings, desire for privacy, to keep the purse string attached, and so on. However, while teaching personal finance concepts to my high school students for 30 years, I witnessed the benefits of dialoguing about this key life skill with our youth. As Dave Ramsey has said, “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
Questions to get the banking ball rolling …
- Where does/will money come from?
Openly discuss how an individual obtains money, specifically as a teenager. Outline any money sources your child currently has (money in a piggy bank, cash given as gifts, allowance, paychecks, etc.) and ways in which they would like to earn money down the road.
- What do you need and want to spend money on?
The answer to this question is always interesting. Let your teen be honest and avoid being too critical. Instead, try to guide them into new, more mature thinking. And don’t forget to stress the importance of saving consistently.
- Why would a person need a bank account?
Answers will vary here but could include … place to deposit money, needed for ATM and/or debit card, way to save, needed to use Venmo/Paypal/Zelle, way to pay bills, way to get checks, for direct deposit for paychecks, etc.
- What do you know about banking?
Start by asking what your teenager(s), in general terms, what they know about banks (services, fees, difference between credit unions, traditional banks, and online banks, names of banks, etc.). Then do the following:
- Compare and contrast a checking account to a savings and money market account
- Discuss what a “check” is, what the numbers at the bottom stand for, and illustrate how to fill out a check correctly (Free printable blank check and steps at: https://learninginfoforeveryday.com/printable-material/ )
- Illustrate how to endorse a check and cash it
- Demonstrate how to use a “check register” and “balance” an account (Steps to reconcile an account can be found in L.I.F.E. – Independence Readiness)
- Talk about what “NSF” stands for and means and how overdraft protection can help avoid penalty fees
- Introduce differences between a debit card and an ATM card
5. Would type of bank account would you like to open?
Help your teen(s) open their own banking account. Consider asking a bank employee to help explain banking procedures and present options for a teen.
Once an account is open, allow your young adult to use their own money to buy gifts this season and pay their own way for certain activities they want to engage in. They may resist at first but will soon embrace the independence of making decisions related to money management.
DON’T FORGET TO EXPRESS YOUR PRIDE IN YOUR TEEN FOR TAKING THIS BIG STEP TOWARDS ADULTHOOD & INDEPENDENCE!
(NOTE: More details on Personal Finance can be found in book 3 – L.I.F.E. Independence Readiness)