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The Money Messenger -- Teen Money Management
August 05, 2010
Welcome to Issue #033 of The Money Messenger!
The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.
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Back-to-school stuff seems to be everywhere! There are sales at every turn, and the school supplies greet you as soon as you walk through the door at Target and Wal-Mart. It sure looks like summer is winding down...
It also means that another school year is getting ready to start up. With that usually comes a change in routine - kids have to get up earlier, activities and fall sports kick in and family scheduling requires a dedicated project manager (or at least a BIG calendar!).
But, before we can worry about that too much, it's time for back-to-school shopping and helping teens with some basic money management tools for the coming year. Now is the time to start planning their budgets and what expenses they expect and will be responsible for. Doing it now - before all the demands of school and activities kick in - can save you lots of last-minute requests and debates.
A reader's question on whether his teen is ready to handle a clothing budget for back-to-school wear
Helpful links and resources
What's new and what's next?
We have safely arrived back in our hometown after two months away. I had the same mixed feelings I usually have when getting back to "real life" after a vacation. It is really nice to be back to familiar ground, seeing family and friends. On the other hand, I'm not looking forward to the humidity and the bugs that were wonderfully lacking in our tropical digs. You may have the same feelings when you come back from vacation - even if it's just an extended weekend at the lake.
Now, it's time to get into the groove for everyone going back to school. That alone can bring big changes. At our house, we have plenty of changes in store that are different from any past years. I am now working full-time from my house having moved on from my corporate life of over 20 years. Preteen princess has decided she wants more independence and is not going to an after-school program for the first time ever. Did I mention that hubby started a new job that requires global travel?
Your changes may not look like this but you probably have your own changes coming. Having a plan can make things a little smoother. This is especially true when it comes to teens and money management. Sitting down now to map out clothing, activity and other expenses can pay dividends as the first rush of school days (and demands for more money) kick in. The articles in this month's issue can help you do just that.
Teen Money Management: The Back-to-School Budget Dance
With school right around the corner, the list of things demanding money from your family budget is starting to grow. If you have teenagers, the price tags on some of those items can get pretty big (and the list can get long).
This can be a great opportunity to teach your teens about money - even if you haven't really done much up to this point. Keep it simple, and then it won't overwhelm them or you. This needs to be done together, so find some time that you and your teen can sit down and work on the details.
Remembering that this is a budget for a specific event (going to back to school) is key because it forces you not to get caught up in all the other stuff - and means that your teen can start right where they are in terms of what they know (or don't) about money. Use these quick tips to help you out even more.
If you are not quite ready to tackle the entire back-to-school budget, why not try it on a smaller part? Clothing is an excellent place to start. It is usually important to the teen (even if they have to wear uniforms to school) so they have a vested interest in it. Plus, it can be a great way for them to learn more about online shopping - even if it is just for price comparisons.
Financial Planning for Teenagers
There are some basic areas to ensure are included in their financial planning and money education. You may have already got a head start on some of these - or this could be new territory completely. As with most things, take it slow, make adjustments as needed and keep moving forward. Your teen (and you!) will have made great progress by Christmas break. Consider teaching one new area each week or each month depending on your teen's money skills.
A realistic financial plan for a teenager contains all of these elements. This will give them some freedom with their money while also providing structure. Plus, it will build the framework for responsible money management as an adult. Let me know your thoughts here on how your are handling teen money management lessons.
Here's where I answer your questions. Paul is trying to figure out how ready his teen is to manage a clothing allowance. He really wants to have his 15-year-old son have a stake in how much gets spent, but worries that it may be too much responsibility. What is the right balance?
First, congratulations for even thinking about this step! It can be scary - for you and your son - but learning key money skills as a teen can really pay off for everyone in the long run. It's just getting over those first bumps that can a little intimidating.
There is really no one "right balance" since every family and every teen are unique. There is, however, a good spot for you and your son to agree upon when it comes to his responsibility. You may already have a good sense of how much he can handle, and you want him to take that next step.
Or, you may have no idea what he is really ready for. In either case, having some confidence in your final decision is key to making this work. Teens can smell fear in their parents - whether about money or anything else!
Ask yourself these questions to get a firm handle on where things stand now to help you figure out what your next steps are.
Helping your son learn and participate at any level in his clothing budget for school is the right step. Knowing that along with your answers to these questions (and the tips from the first article) will give you a great foundation to succeed. Happy shopping!
If you have any other ideas for Paul, send them to me here and I'll share them with all the readers.
While money-and-kids.com strives to provide all the information you need to help educate your kids, teens and family on money matters, there are other great resources to help you. This newer section of the newsletter highlights those that I've found that provide solid, understandable and usable information.
Back to school shopping and teen money management can make any parent a little anxious not to mention frustrated. These resources from around the web can help.
Be sure to check out the latest blog posts at the site. With a new post nearly every day, there are lots of quick bits of information that might be just what you need including recent posts on teen money management.
If you are not a subscriber receiving the blog updates to your email each day, you can subscribe to the money-and-kids.com blog RSS feed here. Go now!
I can't believe that next month's issue will be after the unofficial end of summer - US Labor Day. With fall just around the corner, it can be a good time to review allowances, chores and even the family budget. Join me next month for some unique ideas on how to make these easy to manage while still teaching kids about money. Make sure you and your friends have a subscription so you don't miss an issue!
If you have questions you'd like to see addressed for that issue, just use the Contact Form or email me at email@example.com.
Talk to you soon!
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