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5 tips for raising financially savvy teenagers


teen girl doing homework outside by the pool

Capitalize on teachable moments

Don’t lecture. Instead, capitalize on impromptu moments for learning. For example, if your son is haphazardly throwing prepackaged food into your grocery cart, let him know you value locally grown products and are willing to spend a bit more for these items as a way of expressing this belief. Teachable moments happen everywhere, from the movie theater to the mall to the car ride home. Keep your eyes and ears open, and use the moments as they arise.

It's not just about dollars and cents

Communicate your core values, and show your kids how to express these values through their financial habits. Discussing why and how you spend, save, invest, and give money is a very useful lesson. Your kids will pick up some of these messages along the way, but don’t leave it up to chance. Talk about it.

Encourage money talk between siblings

Encourage your kids to talk with their siblings (or cousins) about money. Not only can they serve as one another’s sounding board when it comes to negotiating a salary, buying or selling a house, or making a large purchase, but it can also help when they are older and need to communicate about expenses related to their parents aging.

Show don't tell

Nonverbal communication sends a stronger message than words. It is imperative that your actions are consistent with the values you are trying to impart. For example, if you are teaching your children about caring for others, don’t just write a check to your favorite charity. Instead, volunteer alongside of them and let them experience the sense of joy that comes with thoughtful, involved giving.

Let failure happen

It can be painful to watch, but kids need to experience failure firsthand. It helps them develop a sense of mastery when they must figure out how to correct the error and move on. Let your kids fail and support them as they try to figure out how to correct the situations, but don’t fix it for them. They may kick and scream in the short run, but they will be forever grateful in adulthood. 

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