Last time we took a look at some of the reasons that you should require your children to save their money, but today we will examine the reasons why you may not want to take this approach. There are valid reasons on both sides, which is why parenting is
enough to make you crazy such an amazing adventure. Regardless of which side of the saving fence you happen to fall on, here are some things to consider:
Allow Mistakes Now…
If we do not allow our children any room to make their own financial decisions as young teens, then we are preventing a valuable learning experience. Teens should find out now what it is like to make a financial mistake (like not saving their money) now while it is not a big deal and will not negatively affect them for the rest of their life. The natural consequences of not saving should be painful enough to them now that they won’t make the same mistake once they reach college.
It’s Their Money…
If your teen is working a part time job, has started their own business, or does odd jobs in order to earn money – it is their money. Parents should not force someone to use the money they earn in a certain way. After all, we don’t like it when the government does that to us – so we shouldn’t impose those standards on our kids. Making them save their own money against their will only creates conflict and makes relationship difficult. Further more, as soon as they do get control of the money, they will likely spend it all on stupid stuff anyway.
This one really burns Eva’s cookies. And mine as well. But I have actually heard parents say something along the lines of, “A teenager can’t really save enough to make a difference anyways, so why bother?” or “She’s only 16, she should have fun with her money, because she could probably only save a $1,000 or so, and that just doesn’t make a difference when college is so expensive.” What? Really? I completely disagree with this line of thinking. It does matter! Every cent matters when a teen saves towards their first car or pays for the first semester books with money they have worked for! In my mind, this devalues what a teen can contribute to their own life and just generally puts me in a bad mood… Don’t make the mistake of marginalizing the efforts your teen makes to save and manage their money. They are important and their efforts are significant even if they don’t have huge amounts saved.
Regardless of what you decide, requiring savings or allowing your teen to make all of the decisions about their money, be purposeful and have a plan. Communicate openly about your thoughts regarding personal finance and help educate your kids on the costs that they will face as an adult. Parental involvement really does matter – you will either make a positive or negative difference in the future financial life of your child.
Next time I will share a list of practical ways that parents approach this issue – the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are some great ideas out there for encouraging teens to save!