With the holidays here, everyone is asking “What do you want?” What is on your list? Once you are a parent, you don’t have much on your own list; you are thinking of your kids. What do most parents really want? They want their children to grow up to be happy and fulfilled, as well as financially independent and managing their money well. But in today’s world of instant gratification, it’s pretty tough to teach your tweens and teens about money.
When you can swipe an ATM card, or now even your cell phone’s payment app, money seems to come and go so easily. Even the most attentive parent can have difficulty fighting that. My 22-year old son said to me last night, “Mom, I live in an ‘immediate world’ where I can download a song – bam, it’s there. I can make an online purchase – bam, it’s done. I can download a book on my Kindle – no waiting. But I can’t immediately improve my credit rating – it will take two to three years.” He’s right—not everything is instant.
But it’s even more difficult to distill delayed gratification in our children today with the constant bombardment of technology. So if you can’t beat them … why not join them? Teaching them money lessons using the technology and the new world they live in is vital. Here are some ideas and how to make those lessons stick.
Teach them virtual money lessons. Since your teenagers are on their smartphones all the time, encourage them to play popular money games. Sports fans can check out a fast-paced, interactive game sponsored by Visa and the NFL called Financial Football. Younger kids might want to check out Money Metropolis.
Teens can manage their allowance using an old-school practical strategy called the envelope system, which really doesn’t need much explanation, but modernize with the “Easy Envelope” app for smartphones. This app is designed for adults but can easily be adapted for teens to track their own money.
Money as You Grow is a website sponsored by the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability and offers practical money skills by age. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) also has a financial literacy site called 360 degrees of Financial Literacy with a section for teens and parents with younger children.
Personalize their lessons. Take their money lessons from theory to dollars in their pocket. For example, put your teen in charge of spending in your household – some segment that might interest them. If they like to cook, give them some meal plans to shop for and then prepare for the family, or start small with something like their own personal care items – toiletries, hair care supplies, etc. Give them a set amount, but let them save the difference in their own personal account if they come in under budget. You might be amazed at the transformation when they “get it” and start using coupons, shopping for “on sale” items, or at discount shops. Sit together and transfer the funds from your account to theirs on your banking app on your phone…
Read More: Nancy Anderson, forbes.com