Someone recently asked me if it was too late to teach her 13-year old son the concept of save, spend, donate, and invest even though she and her husband had provided for him financially all his life. Here’s my advice. It’s never too late. While it may be easier to start when they are younger, 13 is a better starting point than, let’s say, the first year of college when they bring home the credit card overdue notice. Here’s how to get started.
Go to the library and get Mary Hunt’s book Debt-Proof Your Child. It is a little overdone on the personal anecdotes, but she lays out a brilliant strategy for teaching kids about money. The concept is to allocate dollars to cover expenses, eliminating the need for the ever popular allowance approach that essentially puts our kids on the dole. John Whitcomb’s book Capitate Your Kids! is also great. I have been forever recommending these books because they are the best. Very action-oriented. Recently, I started referring another excellent book — Silver Spoon Kids — by Gallo and Gallo.
We have a product available called the Cash Cache that will allow teenagers to apply the education you will impart on them. The Cash Cache makes this process simple to execute in your home. We also have a great book available online titled Welcome to Your Financial Life that presents the basics of personal finance for people in their 20s and 30s. Good reading for you as a parent and later on for your teen.
The thing that I have learned ever since I entered a classroom is that kids of all ages love to learn about money. They recognize the transfer of power that goes along with it. You will find that you will get your teen’s attention more easily than you think when you begin the conversation with them.