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Be Wise With Money

Help Your Teen Master Money Management

It isn't always easy to talk to teenagers about finances, but it's a valuable conversation to have

mom and son looking at a computer


With the definition of "cool" constantly changing by the latest fashion trend or the newest smartphone, it's easy for teens to think that being able to buy what they want when they want will make them happy. Help them avoid that trap by giving them something that will put them on the path to lifelong happiness: money management skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

Thrivent members and financial representatives can help your teens prepare for financial independence.

5 money lessons for teens

1. Share first, then save, then spend.

"You need to assign all the money a place so that it doesn't just disappear, and you don't know where it has gone," says Thrivent member Gina DeBoer of Independence, Iowa.

Gina and her husband, Greg, a pastor, encourage their two teens and two younger children to give away 10% of the money they receive as gifts or earn from their jobs. The practice teaches teens generosity and reminds them that everything they have belongs to God, she says.

The kids typically keep about $20 as spending money and save the rest so they aren't tempted to spend more than they'd planned.

When they have their eyes on a bigger purchase, DeBoer helps them look at their savings accounts to see if they can make the purchase right away, or if they should wait and save up for it.

2. Practice using credit.

Once teens have their first job, it can be a good idea to have them sign up for a credit card, says Kris A. Bougie, a Thrivent Financial representative in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Parents may need to co-sign, but the card should be the teen's responsibility. By learning to use a card with a low spending limit, teens can begin building their credit.

3. Use technology to fight impulse buys.

Teresa Hackenmiller, a Thrivent Financial representative in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, tells teens to use their phones to avoid impulse purchases, as she does. If she finds something she really likes while shopping, she snaps a photo of the item and its price tag.

"If I really need it later," she says, "I will go back and buy it. However, most of the time I don't need to."

 4. Distinguish between wants and needs.

The DeBoers will pay for their teens' basic clothing, but if the kids want a more expensive brand, they have to pay the difference themselves.

When her son wanted a video gaming console, Gina DeBoer pointed out that he had already spent "fun" money on dates with his girlfriend. He ended up waiting eight months to buy the game system with birthday money.

5. Put money in the bank.

When Bougie's children were teenagers, she would deposit their allowance into a bank account rather than give it to them in cash. That practice taught her children to read a bank statement and made them more thoughtful about spending.

"They liked seeing the total go up to $100, then $200, then $500," she says. "If it was their money, they were much more discriminating about asking to withdraw $20 to go to the mall."

Help your teen take the next step

Find a Parent, Teens and Money Matter Workshop

Families like the DeBoers can check with their financial representative to see if a Parents, Teens and Money Matters® Workshop is planned in their area to discuss how money helps them live out their values.

The teens receive the Cash Cache® personal finance organizer, designed with pockets for sharing, saving, spending and investing to help teens keep track of their money.

The parents receive a discussion guide with exercises and discussion topics to keep the money conversation going.

Learn about student solutions

The Thrivent Financial Credit Union can also help students establish good spending habits and build their credit with a student checking package that includes a line of credit of up to $500 while enrolled in college. For convenience, the line of credit includes free ATMs for students to access while on campus.

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