Raising your kids to be money smart is one of the best gifts you can give them.

Raising Financially Responsible Teens

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Raising your kids to be money smart is one of the best gifts you can give them.  This is a sensitive subject for every family.  I think every family handles money slightly differently with their teens. But on the other hand, I think it is something we all need to get a handle on if you are raising teens.

The decisions you make during these critical years are going to have a big effect on your child’s relationship with money as an adult. I’m sure some of us who struggle with money can trace the origin of our problems back to our parents and their relationship with money.

I have a great quote that I think sums up my philosophy of kids and money.

Raising Financially Responsible Teens Quote: Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.

[bctt tweet=”Do not handicap your kids by making their lives easy”]

Honestly, I think that’s the biggest mistake many parents make – making money too easy for their kids. That doesn’t really mirror life, does it? As an adult, I don’t usually have people handing me money or buying me the things that I want. And I even have to work for a living – shocking!

I think the biggest part of our job as parents is to prepare our kids to be successful in their adult lives. So, you want your money philosophy for your kids to be geared towards that goal, right?

When my kids point out something they want or somewhere they want to go.  They know exactly what answer they are going to be hearing from me – “So, how are you going to pay for that?” And they know there is likely going to be some big-time chores or some scrimping and saving in their future before that item is going to belong to them.

For instance, my Scout son wanted to go to the Scout Jamboree last summer. Price tag $3,000 (wince). I thought about it for literally months before I decided to let him go. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I wanted him to be able to enjoy it.

Now obviously, a 15-year-old kid wasn’t going to be able to earn that whole fee within a year. I could barely swing it myself and I had to make a lot of little payments over a year! But I made sure he was going to have to cover at least a portion of it – $500 to be exact. He had to help his Dad mow lawns during the summer, sell Scout-o-Rama tickets all over town.  He’s still selling Dominoes pizza cards to everyone we know (want to buy some?). He hated it and I had to push, push, push him every step of the way, but he understood that he wasn’t getting on that plane to the Jamboree without paying his share of the money.  Ain’t gonna happen pal.

He had to help his Dad mow lawns during the summer, sell Scout-o-Rama tickets all over town.  He’s still selling Dominoes pizza cards to everyone we know (want to buy some?). He hated it and I had to push, push, push him every step of the way.  But he understood that he wasn’t getting on that plane to the Jamboree without paying his share.  Ain’t gonna happen pal.

Then, last Fall, his Xbox broke. Not his fault and I felt really sorry for him.  The thing just wore out after about 5 years of use. It was SO tempting to buy him a new one for Christmas, but I held firm. He’s going to have to save up to either get it repaired or buy a new one. I may help him a bit, because that’s a big chunk of money for a kid that age to come up with.  But he’ll definitely appreciate it all the more when he finally does get it.

I think my biggest fear is to have a 30-year-old unemployed kid still living in my house and expecting me to finance his life for him. I’ve seen so many of my friends struggling with their overly entitled adult children just sucking them dry.

I just can’t face that possibility, so I think that’s why I’ve led my three boys down the path to self-sufficiency. It hasn’t always made me the most popular Mom in town.  But in time, I hope they will appreciate the lesson. Like the old saying says, there are no free lunches, kids. Not in this house anyway.

PS:  I should mention that my two adult sons seem to have learned this lesson very well.  Most kids this age do a LOT of business at the “Bank of Mom & Dad”, but I can’t really think of a time when either of mine has asked me to help them out financially.  Yay!


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  1. Life can be financially difficult as an adult, it is imperative that we teach our kids during the short time that they are with us, and when they will listen to us, to be able to make their way in the world. Teaching them to budget and be frugal can help them to make better choices later. After thirty plus years of using a budget plan I finally put ours up on our website. Hopefully, it can help others too. Thanks, I will click the “Follow” button.

  2. Guilty on this one. But the good news is, I think my girls appreciate what was done for them, and my oldest is seriously working herself sick (paralegal… too much work, too little sleep) to be independent. As you said, it is a process and therefore showing your kids that they need to contribute is vital to them developing an awareness of financial matters.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I should have included that in the post. To me, there is a huge difference between a kid who is working their heart out and just can’t quite get there and one who is just couch-surfing through life. If I can, I will always help a kid who is trying their best. My oldest stepson ever asks for money, but he’s a single dad with four kids, so I slip him some every so often and recently I helped him figure out how to select and purchase a nice used car.

  3. I feel like this is something I already see my young kids struggling with! Thanks for sharing your ideas! We have been discussing systems to put into place now, so we don’t raise such financially ignorant kids!

    1. Thanks, it’s a long and tricky road. Because I have kids of such varying ages – 33, 26, and 17, I am seeing the impact at all different stages of life and I think that helps get a little perspective on things. I think it’s good to start their training as early as possible. Around here, the proudest accomplishment my boys can bring home is to tell me that they bought something at a huge discount or used a Groupon or something. We really celebrate those little accomplishments, even for my older boys.

  4. great post, we live in a town where most people are well off and we know we can’t keep up with them and don’t want to. I’m a firm beleiver in creating last memories with my son rather than buying memories. when he breaks a toy because he;s too rough, oh well. We try to fix it but are not getting a new one. Yes he’s now six and it;s a tough lesson, but he has to learn. #SITSBlogging

  5. I strongly believe in instilling the value of responsibility in all it’s forms in my kids…and I’m actually already starting with my 1 year old–he helps through away his diapers and puts away his toys with me.

    1. Yay for you! Start ’em early. I added a post-script about my two adult sons. They are both completely independent financially these days. They NEVER ask me for money, so I think they’ve learned the lesson thoroughly.

  6. You’re right, it is so hard to not just give in, but it is an important and valuable lesson to have them learn the value of money and how much things cost. I know it is especially hard for teens. Great information!

    1. Exactly. Kids this age have no clue at all. He said the other day that something was “only” $50. I looked at him like he was crazy. and told him that I was not about to spend $50 on something unless I thought about it long and hard.

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