The older you get the more inflexible you become, not willing, or able, to change our ways and habits. So for that reason alone we need to set good habits in place for the younger generation – good financial habits.
Not to say they will become the next governor of the treasury, or an actuary, or even accountant, but they will take good money habits into their lives and be able to manage their expenses. Imagine if you had that money training at school or from your parents, where you learned to save, save regularly not just every now and then; if you learned money sense. Saving for a house, or holiday or kids education would be really easy, second nature.
So we as parents have the opportunity to create this innate money comfort for our kids. We can train them to be comfortable with money, knowing that with the right mechanisms in place they won’t struggle through life and will be able to set and achieve goals.
We need to take this action now, whilst they are in high school, at 12, 13, 14, even later at 17 and 18 if you’ve left your run later. It is our job to teach them about money and how to manage it. One of the best ways to help a teenager learn about saving money is to give them an incentive to save it. One of the biggest items that a teenager craves is buying that first car. It’s more than wanting a sweet looking car, it’s about freedom. Parents go nuts thinking about the freedom it gives that teenager, and teenagers salivate over the thought of that freedom. You can use the purchase of a car as a learning tool by setting up a savings program for it.
At the age of 12, sit your teenager down and begin to explain to them that they may not be fantasising about owning a car right now, but they will most likely be thinking about it in a few years. Here are a few programs that may work with your teenager to help them save for their first car and teach a lesson about saving money and build quality personal finance habits.
1. Sit down with your teenager, and put together a 3 to 4 year savings plan. First, set a goal of how much they want to save to buy a car with cash. NO FINANCING! Their first car doesn’t need to be a NEW car! List several activities that the teen can perform for extra money. These would include chores out of the ordinary. Clearly define which chores are done because they are a part of the family and which chores will receive compensation upon completion. Draw up a hypothetical situation where if they do 2 of these chores for the next 3 years, then they will have X amount of dollars saved towards their first car.
2. Think about matching the amount that the teen saves to put towards a car. This adds the factor of incentive into the equation. Tell your teen that you will match their savings dollar for dollar, but only towards the purchase of a car. If they save $2,000, then they can buy a $4,000 car. If they save $10,000, then they will buy a $20,000 car. I would put a limit on this, because you never know, you may have a very entrepreneurial teen that ends up saving $20,000 over a 4 year period! You probably don’t want to be stuck shelling out 20 grand AND allowing them to drive around a $40,000 car. What this program does is gives the teen something to work for, and this is not something out of reality. Your teen will find creative ways to save, and they will be motivated to save knowing that they can have double the car if they save more than expected.
There are many other ways to help teach a teen the value of saving money. Make sure they are always putting aside a certain percentage of their saved money towards giving to others. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just something to get the message home. If you teach them the value of giving at a young age, they will grow up to be generous and kind citizens in the future. Greed kills marriages, friendships, and destroys careers.