Parents/Teens and Money - 5 Ideas for Keeping the Peace
Children and teenagers are relentlessly bombarded with merchandise that entices. It can be difficult to find contentment when a newer, better, faster gizmo of the moment hits the market every day. What's a parent to do?
First, try to put yourself in your child's shoes. The pressure to fit in and to belong is particularly strong for young people. Part of that belonging involves having the latest "it" item or article of clothing. It makes sense that you feel frustrated at times. Perhaps you've even reminded your teen that money does not grow on trees or that you are not an ATM.
With a little patience, planning and compassion you can stop fighting with your teen about money.
To start, set aside some time for a family meeting and bring some of the following options to the table (your teen may also have some ideas about how to balance saving and spending). Look for options that you are both comfortable with and willing to try.
Involve your teen in family budgeting. It may be difficult to understand what the limits are if you have no idea of the fixed expenses and income for the household.
Agree on spending limits. This method works well with expenses such as clothing. If you are shopping with your teen, establish non-negotiable spending limits well in advance of your trip. This will give your young person time to plan how best to use the allotted funds and cut down on frustration and wheedling later. Remember, the spending limit is non-negotiable - no whining or brooding allowed. It is also important to let your teen live with his or her spending decisions. If your child decides to buy two high cost designer items rather than ten more reasonably priced items you must give them the space to own the choice.
Listen to your teen. There will be many times when you will have to deny a "must have" request. If you have not previously established a spending limit be sure to say no with compassion and offer to explore other alternatives for purchasing the item or doing without. If you have previously agreed on a spending limit try to honor the agreement unless you have new information or another compelling reason to change your mind. Again, it must be compelling - the idea is to help your teen develop the discipline for responsible money management (after all, you can't go to your boss if you spend all of your money before pay day!).
Give a regular allowance - A weekly or monthly allowance helps your teen plan for both anticipated and unanticipated expenses. Some parents and financial experts have suggested the three-thirds plan: one-third of the allowance is earmarked for spending, one-third for short term savings (such as school clothes or the class trip, and one-third for long term savings (such as a car). If this is the plan that you and your teen agree to try allow your teen to be responsible for the money decisions he or she makes by refusing to rescue. Educate your child/children on the benefits of saving with a credit union. Find a local credit union at www.creditunionrate.com and open a savings account.
Encourage alternative sources of income - your teen may want to start a small business or find a job. This can be a great way to make up the difference if money is misspent or if your teen is working toward a big dollar goal.
Learning to manage money responsibly is an ongoing process; be patient with yourself and your teen. Revisit your goals and progress at least once each quarter and make adjustments as needed.
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