Money and teenagers

Anna Gosling

I remember clearly the day my dad had the ‘money talk’ with me. I actually struggled to engage with it and wasn’t all that interested at first. I was excited when I saw that money had been saved up for me, but that was about as far as it went — I was more concerned about when I would be receiving it and less so with how it all worked.

I imagine this is quite common, and while you shouldn’t be put out if your children have this same reaction, it is important that they understand how to manage their savings on their own so they can be responsible with it.

“Talking about money with teenagers can be challenging and frustrating when they don’t want to engage. But, just remember that it’s nothing personal and persevere with it.”

My dad tried to explain this all to me by way of a booklet titled How To Deal With Money. I think this was quite an effective method because it meant that neither of us had to sit through a two-hour conversation about the complexities of ISAs and pensions!

It is also useful because I have it to refer back to if I ever need it. I think the key with this kind of talk with your children is to try to be succinct. Children and teenagers have a short attention span at the best of times, or at least I did!

I would recommend putting down on a piece of paper a brief description of whatever money-saving scheme you used (e.g. ISA, SIPP). We may not listen at the time but it’s good to have something to go back to and we’ll ask questions when we’re ready. Divide it clearly into sections and use bullet points wherever possible. Make sure to distinguish between money that can be used now and money that needs to be kept long term, e.g. for a house deposit.

Another important message to get across is what your children need to do now that they have been informed about their savings. I always fell behind on letters and updates from the company that was managing my ISA, which sometimes caused complications.

Make sure it is clear that these savings are now largely their responsibility now, especially once they are 18. This is important because they need to be proactive in their managing of these accounts once you have handed them over. Explaining to them that they need to be reachable if the company managing their savings tries to contact them is also an important lesson for later life, especially in a professional capacity.

Encourage them to get into the habit of checking for mail and emails regularly and make sure they stay on top of it — these aren’t the ways we communicate now so it doesn’t always come naturally. Don’t be afraid to chase them on these things, because it is really important they stay updated on their savings and accounts.

Talking about money with teenagers can be challenging and frustrating when they don’t want to engage. But, just remember that it’s nothing personal and persevere with it — they will thank you for it (eventually!). I think having savings for your children is one of the best things you can do for them.

For me, I feel a great sense of security knowing that I have these savings and motivates me to work hard so that I can do the same for my own children in the future.

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