When Your Teen Thinks You’re the Bank

Teen putting money in wallet

Mom, can I have $10 for the movies?”

“Dad, I really want to take this girl out on a date Saturday. Can I have a little extra allowance?”

“I really want these new shoes!! I’ll pay for part of them!”

Teens and parents have conversations about money every day, though many times neither realizes what they’re teaching or learning in the moment.

Have you started feeling like your teenager sees you as a bank? And since they never make any deposits, do you think they understand what a bank is?

Discussions about money can be difficult with a spouse, an aging parent and with your children. But it’s important to show them, especially at this age, that talking about money and making money decisions is a big part of adulthood.

So how do you “break the bank” and get your teens to take more responsibility for their finances? Every parent will have a different philosophy on how this should be done, but here are a few creative ideas to open the conversation.


Start Keeping Track

Your love knows no bounds, but your wallet definitely has a limit. So, to help your teen see why sometimes you have to say no to their requests, start keeping track of all the times they ask for money, PLUS all the times you actually give them money.

By the end of the month, show them how much those two numbers are and how that cut into your own extra spending money, for groceries, date night, or a family outing.


Give Them a Monthly Budget

You may not even realize how much of your income is going to small requests from your children. You want them to have fun, but sometimes for the sake of family finances you have to say no (and that’s OK!).

So, you may want to set up a monthly budget for them. They are in their teen years so it’s important that they start understanding the concept of a budget, if they don’t already.

Each time you give them money, remind them to keep track of it. You can give them an unused checkbook register or create a document they can keep up with on their phone.

There may be a few eye rolls with this new system, but it will be a little easier to say no when there’s nothing left in their budget.


Encourage Them to Get a Summer Job

If they’re old enough, encourage them to find a summer job. Whether it’s babysitting, mowing lawns or working at a local restaurant they’ll enjoy having some cash of their own.

But, if they do this, it’s a good idea to have some ground rules about how the money will be spent. Some families come up with a specific percentage that must be saved or given before any can be spent.

If they aren’t driving themselves to work yet, remind them that soon they’ll have to use some of that spending money for gas. You might want to help them figure up how much gas money you’re spending to take them to various events, work and school.

Start Asking Them to Name the Price

Again, another eye roll exercise, but what a lot of teens don’t understand is how much moving out will cost. Every teen dreams of getting out from underneath their parents’ watchful eyes, but they don’t understand the cost associated with going to college or moving out.

Ask them to name the price of items around the house or when you’re out shopping. Ask them how much they think their bed frame, mattress, and comforter set cost. Or ask them how much they think the meal you’re fixing costs all together. Try to make it fun and don’t be too hard on them when they get the price way off. Remember the exercise is to help them understand the costs involved with running a household.


Charge Them With Buying Groceries for a Week

Give them some necessities on a list, but then let them decide what else you need. Maybe give them a few pointers, but don’t make the list for them.

At the end of the week, evaluate how they did. Did you have enough food to last the entire week? Did they buy all junk food? Did they forget toilet paper?

Once they see where they missed something or bought too much of something else, they’ll hopefully be open to your help on their next trip. Then, send them out again the next week!

This time help them create the list. Do you have recipes for dinners you want that week? Do you have any coupons you want them to use? Is there anything besides groceries the household needs? Help them create the list before they go. Remind them to compare prices, look at their coupons, and search for the best deals.


Open a Checking Account for Them

If you feel that they are responsible enough and are working part time, then you might consider getting them to open their first checking account. Teach them how to write checks, use their debit/ATM card, and keep track of their spending. Don’t forget to talk to them about the penalties of over-drafting their checking account. Learn about First Kentucky checking options here

It is hard to relinquish control of your own pocketbook, but it might actually help your teen learn more about how money works. The more they learn at home, the more independent they’ll be when they move out!