A few weeks ago, I posted about an idea we had for teaching our 16 year old son about money. (Read it here) He is very smart, but has no clue what things cost. One of the things I was really concerned with when I became a step parent was what things he needs to learn before he is on his own. I began teaching things like how to brown hamburger meat, cook simple meals (follow the directions on a taco kit or box of Hamburger Helper), how to iron a shirt, etc. Money was another thing on that list.
I have had a job since I was 15 and babysat before that. My mom was a single parent when I was a kid, so if I wanted anything I had to buy it (school clothes, cheerleading expenses, year books, etc.) I have excellent credit and have been very fortunate. I’m in my 7th home (5th that I purchased by myself). I’m by no means perfect and have let the credit cards get out of hand more than once. But we are on the right track now and working to get out of debt. I want my SS to benefit from my experience and start off on the right foot. Many college kids get a credit card and think it is free money. We have all learned the hard way that this isn’t true.
We are pretty generous with the SS, and he doesn’t ask for much. Mainly we suggest that he could use some new jeans, shoes, etc. But he has no idea what goes in to making enough money to live comfortably. He has lofty education and career ambitions, but needs to know how to manage his money once he gets it.
So back to the plan… We started out on the right foot. I took him down to the local credit union (in our neighborhood) and opened up a checking account. The idea was that he will get an allowance every two weeks. The original plan was for him to pay for all of his expenses including snacks and eating out (teaching how to tip was another on the list). However, that has proven to not be feasible. I do most of the grocery shopping and it just makes more sense to combine that stuff. Eating out is still a grey area. But we haven’t been out much lately anyway. The checking account idea was working fine until the debit card came in. First day, he texted a picture of the card to some of his friends (palm to forehead). So we explained why that was not a good idea, cut up the card and ordered a new one. The new one is in now and we will be setting up auto pay for his cell phone bill, lunch account at school and gym membership. So far, he hasn’t spent much money. We will go through his account – maybe next weekend.
Summer is right around the corner, so now he must find a job. He’s not too eager about that just yet. I’m hoping that he will start wanting to drive and wanting a car and will see the benefit of having a job to enjoy that freedom. We sure did at that age.
Anyone else have a teenager that doesn’t want to work? Any strategies for teaching about handling money? Would love to hear your feedback.