Future thinking: teaching teens about finances

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Adolescence is a time of exciting firsts: first car, first job, first kiss…first time you overdraft your bank account.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self some financial advice, what it would be? Start saving sooner? Always pay off your credit cards in full? Learn how to budget?

Like everything else in life, we often have to learn about money by making mistakes.  But if you have teens or young adults in your life, whether it’s your children, neighbors, co-workers, or someone else in your community, why not chat to them about their spending habits? Give them the advice you wish you’d received when you were their age.

Try these simple activities to help any young adults in your life get started on the road to financial confidence

Kick-off a savings plan

It could be a new car, a spring break trip, or any other big ticket item. Helping a young adult to start working towards a savings goal will encourage them to think about money with a long-term view. Start off by working together to determine how much money they need, then set a realistic monthly goal to help them achieve it.

Share the secrets of spending

Talk with them about the everyday expenses they may not realize can quickly add up when you’re living on your own: bills, paying for groceries, gas, and so on. Sometimes it’s these basics that are left out of budgets.  An open discussion about the realities of life can help them make smarter financial decisions.

Start earning

Remind them that an income is essential to achieving any savings goal. Most jobs searches start with writing a good resume. Consider helping them create one that highlights their skills as they apply for their first part- or full-time job.

See the big picture

Think ahead about college or other higher education. Do they have a plan to pay for it? Explain that the average undergraduate student loan balance is roughly $29,800, and help them calculate how long it would take to pay off that debt. Look into any grant or scholarship opportunities to help manage the cost of education after high school.

Support their values

Connecting your spending to your values can help you be confident in your financial habits. Are there any charities or causes that matter to them? Encourage them to write down and prioritize their top 10 values in life, and discuss the benefits of aligning your money with your values and how to do it. Download this worksheet to get started.

Learn how to budget

Use the Super Budget Spreadsheet to help them create a spending plan, showing them how to account for the daily essentials while leaving some room for savings and fun.



Use these budgeting, saving and calculator tools to help young adults get set up for life.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.