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Teenagers and Money (Goals)

Jan 19, 2023 08:42AM ● By Nikki Ducas

It seems that every time my teenager has any significant money in his spending envelope, he feels the need to buy something now. As long as he can remember, we’ve talked about adding up his spending money to buy something that he really wants rather than using it to buy a cheap toy or junk food.

Recently, he’s been daydreaming about setting up his YouTube channel. Understandably, he gets frustrated that he isn’t able to make enough money to buy all the equipment he needs to set it up. We’ve been work together to set achievable goals for what he needs.

Setting goals isn’t an inherent skill for adults much less for teenagers. Goals need to be learned and practiced. As his parent, I see how daunting it is for him to want a big ticket item and only see what he has in his spending envelope. I made a deal with him at the beginning of the school year that if he saved half the money needed for his big ticket purchase, I would match it. This goal got him thinking about saving his disposable income, researching what he really wanted to buy and making him work hard to achieve his goal. He is proud to tell you his goal became a reality on Cyber Monday.

He’s a typical teenager and wants complete autonomy. Our household is more peaceful when we hear him out and he listens to goal suggestions. Even though he feels I am putting off his dreams, my husband and I just want him to learn the difference between wants and needs and encourage structure for his money. In 2022, he changed his mind so many times about what he wanted to buy I can’t even remember them all.

Throughout the year, we asked specific questions such as “Why do you really want this?” and “What do you need to do to get it?” To have the best chance at accomplishing goals, they need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART).

Many teenagers’ goals are financial but could also fall under the categories of academic or more general “life goals.” Having goals in each category is good motivation for a well-rounded teen.

Now that he has achieved this short-term goal, perhaps it will motivate him to save for his first car. Probably not yet but this financial mama could dream. However, he is eager to get his first job to have more disposable income. This “life goal” is a win-win. Hopefully it will teach him responsibility and how to adjust his attitude around others, while also providing valuable financial lessons.

Having an open dialogue about financial literacy with your children early on will be one of your greatest investments. Money-wise teenagers will gain the confidence needed to be financially independent young adults. I’m looking forward to seeing my son’s financial goals develop in 2023.

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