Financial Principles Every Parent Should Teach Their Teenagers

As parents, we strive to equip our children with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the complexities of adulthood. One of the most crucial areas of education that often goes overlooked is financial literacy. Teaching teenagers about money management not only prepares them for independence but also helps them build a foundation for a secure and prosperous future. Here are some fundamental financial principles every parent should impart to their teenage children.

1. Understanding the Value of Money

Before diving into complex financial concepts, it’s essential for teenagers to grasp the basic value of money. This includes understanding how hard work translates into earnings and the concept of trade-offs. Encourage your teens to take up part-time jobs or gigs to appreciate the effort behind earning money and to start valuing their time and labor.

2. Budgeting Basics

Budgeting is a cornerstone of financial health. Teach your teenagers how to create a simple budget by tracking their income and expenses (you can use MFF’s user-friendly Budget Calculator to help). Show them how to allocate money for needs (like food and school supplies) and wants (like entertainment and hobbies). Emphasize the importance of living within their means and saving a portion of their income.

3. The Power of Saving

Instilling the habit of saving early can have a profound impact on your teenager’s financial future. Discuss the concept of paying oneself first by setting aside a certain percentage of their income before spending. Explain the benefits of having an emergency fund and long-term savings goals. You can also introduce them to savings accounts and the concept of earning interest.

4. Smart Spending

Teach your teenagers to be savvy consumers. This includes understanding the difference between needs and wants, avoiding impulse purchases, and learning to shop for value. Encourage them to compare prices, look for discounts, and read reviews before making significant purchases. Educating them about the dangers of consumer debt is also crucial.

5. Credit and Debt Management

Credit can be a powerful financial tool if used responsibly. Explain to your teens what credit is, how credit scores work, and the impact of good vs. bad credit. Discuss the risks associated with debt and the importance of paying off balances in full to avoid interest and fees. If appropriate, consider getting them a secured credit card with a low limit to start building their credit history.

6. Investing for the Future

Introduce the basics of investing to your teenagers. Explain concepts like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and the power of compound interest. While they may not have significant funds to invest yet, understanding these concepts early can spark interest in long-term financial planning. You can also talk about retirement savings and the benefits of starting early.

7. The Importance of Financial Goals

Setting financial goals is a key aspect of financial planning. Encourage your teens to set short-term and long-term financial goals, whether it’s saving for a new gadget, a car, or college expenses. Teach them to create a plan to achieve these goals, track their progress, and adjust as needed.

8. Risk Management and Insurance

While it might seem a bit advanced, introducing the concept of risk management and insurance can be beneficial. Explain the purpose of different types of insurance (health, auto, renter’s, etc.) and how they help protect against financial losses.  Understanding these concepts can help your teens make informed decisions when they start managing their finances independently.

9. Philanthropy and Giving Back

Teach your teenagers the importance of giving back to the community. Discuss charitable giving and the impact it can have. Encourage them to donate a portion of their earnings or volunteer their time. This helps build a sense of social responsibility and empathy.

10. Continual Financial Education

Finally, emphasize that financial education is a lifelong journey. Encourage your teenagers to seek out resources, join a community such as Morgan Franklin Foundation, read books, and stay informed about financial matters.  Highlight the importance of learning from both successes and mistakes.

By instilling these financial principles in your teenagers, you are setting them on a path towards financial independence and security. These lessons will not only help them navigate their immediate future but also equip them with the skills to make informed financial decisions throughout their lives. Remember, the goal is to empower your teens to take control of their finances and build a prosperous future.

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A Journey to Personal Financial Success

At Morgan Franklin Foundation (MFF), we support the concept of financial freedom – by teaching participants how to save by paying themselves first, invest for their future and grow their net worth.

Learning how money works and how to talk about money with others are the first steps towards recognizing an individual’s lifelong financial goals. Our online programs, podcasts, blogs, and book reviews and resources are designed to help you learn the concepts, rules and vocabulary of money, finance and investing.

Becoming an MFF Fellow

Our Standards of Financial LiteracyLearning about money series is engaging, full of interesting information, and easy to navigate. Adapted from the National Standards for Personal Financial Education developed by the Council for Economic Education (CEE), this robust curriculum features six short lessons on such important topics as earning income, understanding the value of saving and using credit. When completed, this program lays the foundation for becoming an MFF Fellow.

Becoming an MFF Fellow is the ticket to access additional MFF programs and opportunities for mentoring, networking, internships and real-world opportunities. Hear from the MFF Fellow themselves on how these opportunities encourage them to continue their journey to personal financial success.

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