Why Teach Your Teens About Money?
The short answer is because you have the most to lose, (other than your teens) if you don’t.
Money is intricately entwined with almost every aspect of adulthood, from deciding on a career, a credit card, a car loan, a mortgage and investment options to starting a business, getting married, having kids and retiring comfortably.
Omitting to teach teenagers how to knowledgeably navigate this morass from a financial standpoint, is akin to letting them cross a busy street with blindfolds on.
Teaching your teens how to make smarter money decisions will give them three distinct advantages:
Learning how money works clarifies their thinking. It helps them understand and puts into perspective all the financial decisions they are expected to make soon. Like taking out a student loan, using a credit card or even lending money to a friend.
It gives them a set of rules they can apply and adapt to their situation. Like figuring out how much of their income they should be saving and then investing.
It mitigates the risk of them taking on bad debts because they now grasp how detrimental this can be to the future they envision for themselves.
It allows them to be more discerning in their purchases, because they are now acutely aware, both of their own money biases as well as the predatory marketing tactics used against them.
Like using a windscreen wiper in a downpour, it prevents them from being blinded by the constant deluge of advertising messages they are subjected to and allows them to focus on the road ahead that will lead them to financial security.
Unfortunately, with no real understanding of the basics of money management, it’s inevitable that most teenagers get ensnared in get-rich-quick schemes, sucked into debt and/or squander away their (and your) savings.
The clarity that a financial education affords them, is a welcome relief from the murky waters most teens are wading in.
Being a teenager is hard, not least because they feel that they lack control over their own life. Most important decisions in their lives are made or unfairly influenced by well-meaning adults, because well, they just know better.
Being adept at making sound money decisions helps give teens the sense of control they desperately seek. It trains them to think long term and see their future as a function of the decisions and actions they take now.
They feel like they have their hands on the wheel now, and can steer their life in the direction they’d like, instead of wildly hurtling toward an uncertain future.
It shows them that they don’t have to succumb to the corporate rat race, for example. It presents a different way of thinking about & behaving with money.
It allows them forge their own path, keeping the principles in mind and working within the parameters of smart personal finance. Like perhaps taking on a lower paying job that offers valuable learning and experience over a job that just pays a higher salary.
It opens their mind to options they might have never considered before, whether in terms of educational pathways, a career or moving abroad.
It teaches them to look for and carefully consider various options instead of settling for the first one they come upon, or more importantly, evaluate whether or not they really need it in the first place. This trait is particularly useful in today’s fast paced & instantly gratifying world.
It shows them that they don’t need to be slaves to the advertising/ marketing industry that compulsively and consistently push the impulse-buying buttons of these poor unsuspecting teenagers, with their carefully devised campaigns and highly tuned algorithms.
Attaining this clarity and sense of control, naturally leads to a strong sense of confidence in these teenagers.
They feel more in control of their money behavior and that makes them feel more calm and secure about their future. They don’t fear ‘adulting’ so much anymore because they have a good understanding of how to navigate and deal with the financial quagmires that they’ve noticed have upended the lives of so many people they know.
This isn’t a false sense of bravado, these financially educated teenagers understand the implications of impulsive, brash decisions and realize that ‘simple not easy’ is a recurring theme in learning about money. They recognize that while everything they’ve learned seems relatively simple, actually living by these principles can be quite hard and needs a strong sense of discipline.
But they also know that this sense of discipline is easier to build as youngsters because it gets hardwired in them and then becomes instinctive as they get older.
Understanding money goes from being an ‘unconscious incompetence’ where they didn’t know they didn’t know; to an ‘unconscious competence’, where they are unaware they are using the principles of smart money management because it’s so ingrained in their behavior.
This confidence therefore, is a result of competence in the money realm. And it spills into other areas of their life as well, whether it’s living alone, holding down a job or investing regularly.
It makes them wise beyond their years because they have learned from the experiences of others and are much better prepared to avoid financial quagmires and build a financially secure future.
If this long winded argument to teach your teens about money doesn’t win you over, go back to the short one — you have the most to lose if you don’t.
Just ask the thousands of parents who are still supporting kids that are well into their forty’s, or those who are really worried about leaving their wealth to their kids, or those whose kids have already burned through their savings & inheritance.
Either way, I hope you find your why and save yourself (and your teen) a whole load of financial headaches, heartaches and misery.