Real Talk – Teens & The Family Budget

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We’ve all know about the importance of having a personal budget or spending plan. But what does it mean to budget for the entire family? As parents, the family budget can quickly feel out of control when the variety of expenses are everchanging. As families grow in size and kids grow in age, the aspects of a family’s financial forecast can take any number of unexpected turns. As kids become teens and their needs grow along with them, at what point can you ask your teenager to make a contribution to the family budget?

Even though they’re balancing school, extracurricular activities, and maybe even a part-time job, there are many positive ways in which they can contribute to the expenses of the entire family.

The Working Teen

If your teen lands an afterschool or summer job, this can be a great opportunity to introduce them to your family’s monthly obligations and how they could contribute. Expenses like cell phones, gas for the vehicle they drive, even the cost of their auto insurance are all great areas for your teen to contribute and develop a deeper understanding of the financial implications of the things we use every day.

The Extracurricular Teen

Sports and other activities can be very demanding for your teenager. They can also be quite taxing for the family budget. There are several ways to get the entire family involved in how these types of costs factor in each month. Busy families are more likely to eat out and find themselves fueling up the family car more frequently, too. These can be a great starting points for conversations with your teen about ways that everyone can pitch in. Maybe taking on additional chores around the house would make it easier to at-home dinners despite limited time. They could organize carpooling among friends and family as a way to help lighten the load whenever possible. These conversations can also be helpful for the rest of the family as you develop a better understanding of how to plan for everyone’s hobbies and interests, from a time and financial perspective.

It seems that teens today are busier than ever. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take the time to impart valuable lessons about budgeting and the costs associated with providing for our families. Talking with your teen about monthly household expenses and finding ways for them to contribute will go a long way towards setting them up for a successful financial future and managing their own families one day.

For more tips on getting this conversation started, check out the Budgeting basics video on our Money & Beyond Jr. page.

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