Don’t Stay Mum on Money, Mum! Part Six

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Teenagers. Continued. The horror! If early teens were a handful for you, head for the hills.Find higher ground. They’re too lazy and hormonal to follow you, even if they have a reason to. Leave them with some money, a pizza delivery number and get out.

money coins

Ages 16+

Let’s Begin

Teenagers. Continued. The horror! If early teens were a handful for you, head for the hills. Find higher ground. They’re too lazy and hormonal to follow you, even if they have a reason to. Leave them with some money, a pizza delivery number and get out. Or not. If only it were that easy and at times it may seem worth it, but you’d have to agree that running from problems – especially problems in the awkward and self-absorbed form of teenagers – is not a terribly good way to deal with life. We all know that. Does everyone apply that rationale? Obviously not. Do you? Think about it honestly. Teenagers spend their time avoiding as much responsibility as they can and live a very indulging lifestyle. Okay, some don’t. And credit to those parents, because at the end of the day, it’s always the parents’ fault. A good kid that cleans her room and does her homework? Parents’ fault. A nasty kid that deliberately loses his property and ignores his education? Parents’ fault. It’s too easy for parents to take the blame. Perhaps because they are responsible for so much of what a young child would grow up to become. Surely, by now, we can agree that this is exactly what happens with matters of finance and money. Why does a child grow up to become financially incompetent? Really, it’s because they weren’t given the necessary guidance. Now, if you’re a parent and you’ve decided to take responsibility, that’s on you. If you’re a parent that has denied responsibility, that’s on you too. What I’m trying to say, I think, is that you have the perfect opportunity to help your children mature into responsible and educated young adults that will face the harsh realities of a world seemingly dictated by economics. Your children are with you, now is the time to step up and help them become active members of communities and society as a whole as opposed to stunted individuals who painstakingly battle through all the lessons they could have learned when they were younger and at home. At the end of the day, the most important thing is communication. And as a parent of a teenager, you have your work cut out for you. Unless, you’re already Googling 5-star cruises.

What to Communicate About Money and How

teenagers

Let’s Discuss

While we’re talking about talking, let me list some topics to talk about that are more relevant to this blog series. Teenagers are teenagers. That is well established. What does one discuss with a teenager, though? Well, first off, you go right for the jugular. Broach the topic of money handling issues that young adults face. What can young adults expect as they reach the end of their cushioned spells in their family homes? Bills, bills, and bills. So be a little bit more specific. Tax. UIF. Air time and data. Accommodation. Food. Petrol. Laundry. Electricity and water. Stationary. Debt. University fees. Car maintenance. Transport. Medical bills. Wine and beer expenses. Bail. Date nights. Road trips. Replacing lost documentation. And then, life insurance. Children. Pensions. Supporting their parents. Supporting their siblings. Charity. There is one thing that connects all of those things in what could become a very heavy and suffocating net, but on the flip-side, a safety net that supports their fulfilling lives. Which will your children have and for how long? Those are some of things that a parent could address. More pressing issues include bad credit, fraud, bankruptcy, destitute, unemployment. As adults, you would have faced most of life’s money issues, good and bad. Use that experience, use that insight and knowledge to guide your children on a financially secure path. Discuss topics such as loans and the different options of loans. Discuss credit and the advantages and disadvantages of it as well as how to avoid a bad credit score and maintaining a good credit score. Discuss the value of education as far as how much it costs and what the return is for focused application to receiving one and then naturally the disadvantages of not having one. Discuss the responsibilities of having dependants and how it changes the way money is handled. And while you’re at it, talk about how financial decisions may affect others. Draw on experience if you can. How have past decisions affected your family, your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends or even your career or business? Speak about slush funds and the importance of having money saved for emergencies. On the positive side, discuss employee benefits and finding jobs with all the right packages. Talk about interest and how investing works. Go so far as to discussing charity and how to investigate charities and pick the right ones. I could go on, but you get the idea. Don’t you? Talk to your children. Talk to your teenager. Make sure they know that you are available to listen and to talk about financial matters. You could have sent your children out into the world with all the knowledge you could give them, but they will have hard times and make mistakes, so they’ll need to know that you are there and readily available to talk about finances openly and freely with money already a comfortable subject.

teenagers

Let’s Do

If you haven’t by now, know that it isn’t too late to set up a personal savings account at the bank for long-term savings. While your teen is still at home, give them mock credit cards, backed by you as the parents so they can learn to budget. If possible, set this up at a bank. Deposit clothes, money and toiletries into an account for him or her to manage. Help your teen write out a monthly budget that is based on income and expenses, which can include allowance and earnings from a part-time jobs. Let them compile their own shopping lists using their budgets and give them the opportunity to make their own decisions, good or bad. If they’re good, it’s your fault. If they’re bad, it’s your fault. Until they know what they’re doing, it’s your fault. And if they do know what they are doing, it is your fault. Let me remind you that this isn’t really about blame and shame. When I say it is your fault, I mean it is your responsibility as parents and as wiser human beings. Holding back vital information is irresponsible and this will only contribute toward producing irresponsible young adults that hold back from speaking to you about things that matter. And, I can confidently say, that’s exactly what you don’t want for your children. Moving on. Help your teen contemplate unexpected expenses like repairs for a broken bike or lost items. Encourage them to set aside an emergency fund for these unforeseen events. Get your pimply academics calculate future income needs and standards of living and together shed a little tear if need be. If you want to test them, get them a pet – or not, since it will most likely be left with you as they take that very expensive gap year – or a plant, which they must look after. The kind of looking after that includes their budgeting skills and diligence to remember to nurture the animate or inanimate creature instead of using your money to buy the food and your memory to remember feeding them. Lastly, get a job! I mean your teenager, not you. Part-time jobs are a necessity. What better way to prepare them for a life in the work force or as a leading entrepreneur, than encouraging them to get a part-time job that doesn’t interfere with their social lives. I’m kidding. A part-time job that doesn’t interfere with their education. If you’re a parent that has a lot of time and likes to get involved with the children, forget about trying to party with them and instead start a small entrepreneurial venture. You never know when, and where from, the next Lynette Magasa or Shellie Roodt will come. It may even be you.

teenagers

Let’s Conclude

Do not cause anxiety by fearing you’d cause anxiety. Children unexposed grow up clueless. And clueless adults breed clueless children. So, you’ll have grandchildren to bail out of financial trouble unless you nip that problem in the bud. And by nipping it in the bud, I don’t mean sterilizing your children. I mean teach them what you can about money and establish an open and comfortable line of communication for all matters, let alone financial ones. In reality, money is not scary. Parenting is scarier and you’re probably managing quite well, so give yourself some credit and open up. Communication is vital for young learners. In fact, communication is vital for everyone. Embracing the idea of both speaking about money and teaching your children about money, could be the remedy you needed. You wouldn’t be alone with your financial incompetency and struggles. You could learn to be more open with your spouse on financial issues – something that plagues and every so often ends marriages. You could learn more tips and lessons about managing finances. You could establish a very functional relationship with your children and entire family – and could even consider entertaining the idea of another family holiday, that would be brave and positive. Ultimately, money does not equal power and happiness. Having healthy relationships with family and friends and making the most of your life and theirs is what empowers and enriches people and makes them happy. If you needed to start teaching your children about money to discover a new lease on life, then you really had it all to gain.

By Clinton Walker

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