Teaching Teens about Money

There are many things about raising teenagers I was ill prepared for. 

So many that I can’t even begin to list them all here… 

Partly because I was in denial.  Partly because I was only raising them part of the time and I {mistakenly} assumed that the other parent was doing things that I would do if they were with me more.

One of the shortcomings we’re {I’m} facing now is that my Giant has never really learned the art of delayed gratification to save up for something even more important.  To be fair, I know many in their late adult-hood who also struggle with this concept. 

I also realize that for reasons that I won’t list here, “the way I was raised” isn’t gonna cut it.

My parents are awesome.  Growing up, I never got an allowance.  My needs were met.  My activities were paid for.  I never needed to worry about money because there was nothing I needed I didn’t get.

I did chores around the house because that’s just part of being a part of a family.  We all help each other out so that no one person has to shoulder the burden alone.  Period.

I wasn’t paid for grades because that was my job.  Period.

When I became driving age, my car and insurance and gas were paid for.  Cell phones weren’t a thing of course, but if they were, I have no doubt that my parents would have foot the bill there too.

I honestly never questioned it.  Yes, I know I was spoiled.  Yes, I appreciate everything that my parents did {and still do} for me.

But the times they are a changin’

Now I’ve got this amazing teen in my care.  He has needs I don’t even fully understand.  He can’t yet express them.  That’s what happens when you’ve not been allowed to want anything for 15 years and even if you did, you were led to believe that what you want doesn’t matter.  

He needs the freedom to make decisions and learn about money before he heads out to the big bad world and flounders… I know this.  Wholeheartedly.  And yet… I struggle with how to go about these lessons…

For one thing, I have to remember that I’m the one not allowing him to get a job.  Yet.  Once he can drive legally, we will discuss, but even then, I’m a big believer that during the school year, you have a job.  School.  If he wants to get a job next summer, I will wholeheartedly encourage that.

He does extra chores around the house to earn money from my folks – mowing lawns, cutting wood, etc. – and uses that towards large purchases – his new cowboy hat, new boots, etc.

I provide his clothes, food, extracurricular activities {swimming etc.}, food, and all of the other general “needs.”

What he really needs is pocket “fun money”.  Money so he (a) has money in his pocket “like all his friends do” {and yes, I totally hear the good ol’ ‘if all your friends jumped off a bridge’ echoing in my ears} (b) he can buy snacks or gum or soda after school when he wants to (c) money so he can have a social life… without having to ask me for money.

As the girl who used to spend most of my nights in high school in my room reading or studying {When I didn’t have a steady fella taking me out} I struggle to remember just how important a social life is.  Don’t worry – I have my mom to remind me just how weird I was {am}.

So now, I’m trying to figure out what that elusive dollar amount should be… 

And what’s fair…

And what’s too much…

And wondering why there’s not a chart somewhere telling me what the going rate is for teens in 2015.

So of course, I turned to the book of face.  {Because that’s how grownups should always make important decisions.}


And considering that every family is different and every situation is unique, it was less helpful than I had hoped.  However there was a tidbit of brilliance shared.  

“teens define needs different than us humans”

Truer words have never been spoken.

The end result is that Giant and I will have a discussion.  We will discuss what he wants to spend his money on and how much he thinks he needs to satisfy is needs.  Then we will come to an agreement on what is fair and equitable to us both.  I hope.  Fingers crossed.

What about you?  Were you raised with an allowance?  What about for your kids?



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