Get a list of things you should cover when you talk finance for teens, plus how to start the conversation and resources to try.
It would be nice if we could just sit down with our kids one time, have a chat about money, and call it good enough.
Unfortunately, just like the rest of parenting, you have to talk about finance for teens over and over again.
A week or two ago, I had a talk with a couple of my teens about budgeting. (We have four teenagers in case you’re wondering why I would say “a couple of teens”.)
It was amazing! Just kidding. I talked, and they made jokes about memes and video games the entire time.
But whenever I said something like, “Do you even know what I said?”, they could answer me.
I know from experience that when I try to talk with my teens about something serious, there just isn’t going to be a lot of back and forth conversation.
So these days, I look for opportunities to plant seeds of ideas in their brain.
And now I know that later they might ask questions (maaaybe), or they will at least start to put some of those ideas into practice on their own.
So there’s the how to have the conversation. But what should you talk about?
How To Talk About Finance For Teens
Warning: Don’t plan to sit down one afternoon and cover all of these topics with your teenager!
Spending a good 10 or 15 minutes covering one idea on a given day will give you the best results.
Start With The Basics
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just talk about how you already use these things, and maybe how you learned about things the hard way.
Does your teen already have a bank account? How did you open it? Why did you choose the bank you chose?
Talk with them a little about the difference between checking and savings accounts.
What’s the difference between a debit card and a credit card? They look the same, but act very differently.
How can they safely use Venmo, Paypal, or whatever online payment options they choose?
Discuss retirement. This article has a nifty chart that shows you how powerful it is to save even a small amount of money for retirement in your 20s as opposed to waiting until you’re 40.
Build A Budget
The sooner you learn to make your money work for you, the better.
Talk about how you budget your money. What have you learned over the years about budgeting? What works, and what doesn’t?
There’s no need to let your child in on every dark secret you have about finances. Just use this time to give them a good idea of what things in your area cost.
It’s a great time to talk about how a sinking fund can be really useful. Everything you need to know about sinking funds can be found right here.
Be Frank About Debt
You already know that credit card companies are ruthless.
Can you check out at any store without being offered a “deal” if you just sign up for a credit card?
Now imagine that you’re a young adult, and you think that deal sounds pretty good. Not that you know anything about debt, or interest rates, or missing payments.
So talk about all of that.
What’s a credit rating? Why is that a big deal?
Is it a good idea to open a credit card so he can begin to build good credit? That depends on the child.
Frankly, most of them are not going to be ready to handle that responsibility. Remember that the system is designed for us to “lose” and pay interest, or they wouldn’t offer big incentives.
Try this exercise: Tell your kid that they suddenly noticed that their car tires were bald, and they need 4 new tires. They have no money, so they put it on a credit card.
Look up the cost for 4 new tires for your car. Then use a credit card payment calculator like this to show them how long it might take to pay off that debt (at 18% interest), and how much money they’ll actually pay for those tires in the long run.
Finance For Teens Resources
Looking for more ways to talk about money for teens?
Here are some financial resources we like to use:
National Geographic Kids sent me a free copy of their new book, Not-So-Common-Cent$, to review. It has a lot of good information laid out in a fun way.
We recently began listening to the Money With Mak and G podcast (here’s their YouTube channel). The kids talk about money topics with their dad, which makes it a little more interesting to kids.
One book I really love to read with my kids is Whatever Happened to Penny Candy. It talks more about how money and markets work than it does personal finance, but will give your kids a better foundation for making their own financial decisions.
If all of this talk makes you wonder if you could budget a little better yourself, no worries! This super affordable budget planner can be used year after year…and every year that you use it, the worksheets will build a stronger budget for you.
Pick a topic and start talking about finances for teens today.
Let’s stop our kids from making the same money mistakes we did by taking finances off the taboo topics list.
Once you start this discussion, you’ll be surprised at all the ways your teens will apply these ideas to their lives starting with their first job.