Teen Development – Teaching Your Teen Financial Responsibility

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

What should your teen be responsible for purchasing?  Better yet, at what age should you begin making your child or teen responsible for select purchases? Many parents begin teaching this lesson very early on, while others, in the name of “allowing their children to be children” will purposely cover all purchases no matter how small.  The latter could set your child up for financial failure. Regardless of your financial status, all children should be taught financial responsibility.

As far as when to begin teaching your child financial responsibility in general and for specific purchases, there may not be a right or wrong answer; however, you may choose to ask yourself specific questions such as, if I give them the money for this purchase, will it help them to be independent and hardworking adults in the long run?  If you answer “no” then you have your answer regarding that purchase – you can then offer to help pay for the purchase while your child covers the remainder after they have saved enough money.

At times I’ve offered to give my son “enough” money to cover specific purchases but I would then advise him that he would have to pay it back, sort of like a small loan – after which my soft side would kick in and I’d allow him to do extra jobs to help pay his debt off sooner.

teen money image
Click this illustration to read about the Schwab money wise survey!

All in all I believe that it is best to teach your children self-discipline to get them away from the microwave mentality    (I want what I want and I want it now, without having to save).  Needless to say, I worked hard to teach my son this valuable characteristic because my baby, bless his heart, he was so spoiled! Nonetheless I was able to help him learn this very trait.  After all, patience is a virtue, as the Bible teaches us. He is now a very responsible military man 🙂

You can begin to teach your child very early on many different ways to earn and save money for their purchases.  When my son was           8 years old, we taught him creative ways to earn money, such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow and odd jobs around the home… the sooner your children learns that they can earn money through hard work, the more independent and self-sufficient they will become, which will become a source of pride for them, as they will also be able to purchase Mother’s Day cards and Father’s Day cards for you, their parents, something they can be very proud of!


To help your teen develop their own financial independence, consider making them responsible for the following expenses:

1. Lost items – When it comes to lost possessions, your teen will fair far better and feel the burn when they have to foot to bill for replacement. Such as the replacement of a lost cell phone, eyeglasses, jacket etc.  This way they can become more responsible in the long run. When things come too easily, they aren’t valued.

2.  Damaged items – Damage, whether by mistake or on purpose. Such as costly damage to the household property, they can be made to work off the debt by doing extra chores.

3.  Nice to have items – Luxuries – such as cell phone upgrades. If their current phone still serves its purpose, your child should work extra hours to get the upgrade.  Again, if they have to work for it, they will appreciate it more.

4.  Family gifts – Unless your child is 6 years old you shouldn’t have to give them money to purchase gifts for others.  Contributing towards the cost of a gift is different.  At 7 years old your child should begin doing chores and begin to learn about saving money.  You can also encourage them to be creative gifters. The best gifts are sometimes made by hand.

5.  Dining out with Friends – Teens often like to eat out with friends. In these cases they should probably be spending their own money; even for trips to the movies. The more they like to do, the more they should become accustomed to working hard to afford the cost of movies and trips to the mall with friends.

6.  Minor automotive needs – Once your teen begins driving. They should be made aware that gas, insurance and maintenance on the car is their responsibility. After all, if you purchase their first car, those things are the least they can do. The first time it runs out of gas, it should be parked until they can purchase the gas. Once they’ve ridden the bus a few times, their car will become a luxury again 😉

Just food for thought. What are some ideas you have on this topic? I love to know 😉

Until next time xoxo’s

~D. Linn Whorley

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