Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas and Holidays: Teaching Your Teen to Handle Her Money Well

Teaching teens how to handle money is one of the most valuable lessons you can give them in life.

You cannot teach your kids how to handle money by sitting them down at the kitchen table and handing them PowerPoint slides with the option of writing notes down by each slide. While the theoretical work in money management is important, you really teach with the example you set and letting them have personal experience handling money (with your guidance of course).

If your kids learn how to handle $100, $500, $1000, they will be more comfortable with handling even bigger amounts of money. The trick is to teach them how to work wisely with what they got. Handling money is all about organization, knowing the budget and knowing how much savings are wanted by the end of the period.

Christmas and the Holidays are an excellent time to practice. It is a time of the year where most of us end up spending more than we do on a regular basis while having to keep our regular financial commitments. It really puts us to the test!

With your guidance, let your teen practice how to handle money. The more she practices working with money, the more confident she will be with it later in life. As with other things in life, managing money well is a habit. Encourage her to develop this habit early in life.

Here are some tips to address with your child about handing money this Christmas:

1. Open a Bank Account: If your teen doesn’t have a bank account yet, consider getting her one. Having a formal place to keep her money, a place where she can see her money grow can motivate her to keep more in there. Open the bank account before Christmas and watch her hesitate to spend what she has deposited!

2. Firm budget: Guide her to start Christmas shopping with a firm budget in mind, not a flexible one. She can write down a range of what she wants to spend (e.g., lowest she thinks she can spend based on her commitments and the most she is willing to spend). Getting into the habit of keeping a budget will give her experience in learning to plan her spending, it will help her not to spend money on things not needed, and it will teach her to save money for bigger purchases (e.g., first car, first home).

3. Write a list: Asking her to keeping her budget in mind, het her to write down who to buy for and how much she would like to spend on each person. She must stay within her budget so she doesn’t go into her savings. The list will help her stay organized and within budget.

4. Look around: Teach your teen to look around a few stores before buying. With a little more effort it is possible to find an item for a bit cheaper elsewhere. Flyers and online research can help with this. No need to drive around to do the research. It can be done from home by phone or going online.

5. Coupons, coupons, price match?: Teach your teen it is cool to use coupons and it doesn’t represent cheapness. It represents cleverness! Look for coupons together and show her how much money she can save (there is a coupon for almost everything online). Also, many stores now offer price matching. Teach her how to take advantage of this opportunity without being shy about it.

6. Keep records: If your teen needs to buy for a few people, get her in the habit of keeping a record of how much she is spending (this is also good when keeping a monthly budget). Managing money successfully involves keeping a record of how much money goes where. This allows her to know where she is overspending. Help her create a spreadsheet that will automatically calculate her spending during the Christmas season.

7. Bank the rest: Let your teen know it is OK if she doesn’t end up spending as much as she thought she would need to. Awesome! To treat herself, teach her to put the rest in the bank so she can see her bank account grow. That’s more satisfying than any material reward she could buy herself and place in the corner 2 weeks later.

Happy and Safe Wishes to Your Family This Christmas Season

Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto

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