A penny earned is a penny…spent

Does money fly out of your teen’s hands faster than a cheetah chases its prey? Perhaps you thought that her new job was going to make her more money conscious; but instead, she has stocked her closet with more shoes.

It’s true that some teens are thrifty, but many others have surely purchased items they really didn’t need, because “it seemed important at the time.” Without mortgage payments and heating bills, many teens find it hard to value a dollar.

Parents can learn from examining their own relationship with money to encourage their teens to become adept at financial matters.

Set an example

Your teen has been watching how you’ve handled money over the years. She has listened to your conversations and has watched your spending habits. There is nothing more powerful than a teen realizing that her parents are fiscally responsible.

“You can set a good example by choosing to look for savings, clipping coupons, and comparing prices,” says Lisa Reynolds, a savings specialist and Mom Saver-in-Chief at RedPlum (a provider of online and newspaper coupons).

The teen mindset

Parents have long been aware of this typical teen pitfall: wanting instant gratification. Advancements in technology have taught teens that information is sent and received almost instantaneously. Shopping is at one’s fingertips, too. Today, you can click on a website and make a purchase in just minutes.

No wonder parents have a hard time teaching teens that some things are worth waiting for when so many tasks have become effortless.

Give guidance

Cathi Brese Doebler, author of “Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family: How to Thrive on Less Than Two Incomes,” urges parents to set a standard for saving.

“We separate their earnings into three piles: 80 percent for spending, 10 percent for saving, and 10 percent for giving. We offer advice on good-spending decisions, and then let them make choices on how and when to spend their money.”

She emphasizes that teens learn from consequences. For instance, when teens realize they can’t buy something they really want because of an earlier, impulsive purchase, an important lesson is learned.

“Learning lessons when they are young, over small amounts of money, is much better than learning lessons when they are older, over larger amounts of money,” she says.

Some experts caution parents about enforcing specific rules.

“I don’t think it is fair to force teens to save their allowance. Allowances are a learning experience, and it may be that some teens will learn the importance of saving after experiencing the consequences of not planning adequately,” counsels Marietta Jelks, manager of the Consumer Action Handbook, a publication of the Federal Citizen Information Center.

Tips and tales

“My daughter has a checking account with a debit card for spending on things she wants and gas for her car. The other is a savings account that she cannot touch. When she gets her paycheck, at least half of the money goes into her savings. This method helps her live within her means.”

Moncia Bowles-Relyea, Hyde Park, NY

“Teach teens to go to the clearance rack. Compare the costs at consignment shops versus sales at department stores.”

Fran Sarigianis, Staatsburg, NY

Share your ideas

Upcoming topic: Latest on “sexting” — how parents can ensure their teen is using his cell appropriately and legally.

Send your full name, address, and brief comments to [email protected], or visit www.myrnahaskell.com.

Myrna Beth Haskell is a feature writer, columnist and author of the newly released book, “Lions and Tigers and Teens: Expert advice and support for the conscientious parent just like you” (Unlimited Publishing LLC). Visit www.myrnahaskell.com.

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