Begin With the Budget
IT’S A SKILL THEY’LL USE ALL THEIR
lives, so start now. Tell your kids to
write down their expenses for an entire
week. Add up the totals, showing how
much they spend on impulse buys such
as snacks, music, and video games.
Then prepare to be regarded as if you
have two heads when you ask them to
cut back. Next, make a list of what you
will pay for and what they will pay for.
Do they “need” $15 worth of i Tunes
downloads every week? Then that $780
a year will come from their allowance or
This doesn’t have to be as daunting
as it sounds. Mint.com offers excellent
free online money management, for
THE CARE AND FEEDING OF THE AVERAGE 15-YEAR-OLD
runs $13,530 per year, according to the latest figures from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. That’s 13 percent more than a five-year-old costs. Plus, as parents we are now paying 20 percent more to raise
our kids through age 17 ($222,360) than our parents spent to raise us.
That’s not exactly news to parents
familiar with teens’ insatiable appetites
for the newest clothes and gadgets—
not to mention food. As Beth Kobliner,
author of Get a Financial Life, says,
“Teens. Can’t live with them, and can’t
afford them either.” But you can attack
the high cost of adolescence with a few
key strategies. One: Teach your kids the
essentials of money management. Two:
Hunt for bargains on everything, from
braces to higher education. (And pass
those tips along to your children, too.)
It won’t always be easy, but taming the
teenage urge to spend will do more than
launch a lifetime of financial literacy;
it’ll help you get a handle on your own
spending, too. Here’s how.