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Financial Strategies 101: Help Teens Earn, Save & Spend

Teenage years offer some of the first opportunities to learn about finances. A strong and positive experience with money early on can set a person up for a lifetime of fiscal responsibility. Start with financial strategies 101 for teens to make the most of their money and avoid consumer debt.

Financial strategies 101 are a solid foundation for financial health.

Financial strategies 101 are a solid foundation for financial health.

Helping Teens With Money: Financial Strategies 101

Whether this is your first time teaching your teenager or you need a refresher, the basics are the best place to start. Earn, save, and spend are the pillars of financial strategies 101. Let’s take a look at each of these essential ideas and their applications.

How to Earn Money

It may seem like common sense, but to get money you have to earn it. Up until this point, your child may not have connected these dots. They might just receive money when they ask for it and fail to realize its origins (no judgement here, just stating a common experience of younger teens).

There are a few ways teens can earn money. The first way kids typically earn some moolah is to complete chores around the house and receive an allowance. From there, they might start babysitting, doing yard work for neighbors, or helping with the family yard sale.

Older teens might be interested in finding more gainful employment. A part-time job can be a great learning opportunity. Not only will they learn to handle larger sums of money, but they will gain job skills and experience with W-2’s, taxes and more.

How to Save Money as a Teen

Once your teenager starts earning money, there is great potential to misuse it. Spending is fun! With no major responsibilities or experience of saving, teenagers need motivation and direction to be successful.

Work with your teenager to set savings goals. Younger teens might want to start saving for a bike, gaming system or even a car; older teens might be heading toward college. Help them avoid student loan debt by saving early.

A helpful exercise is to research with your teenager the cost of their big ticket goals. This can help them see the true cost of their desires and how important it is to stick to a savings plan.

How to Spend Within a Budget

Finally, you should walk your teenager through a monthly budget. A working example of income, expenses and saving in motion is critical to truly understand all the implications of financial achievements and missteps.

This exercise can be very simple. You can use a notebook and a calculator to track everything. Once you model a few instances, make sure you allow your teen to take over the calculations. Here is an example of what a proposed budget might look like.

  • Income: $200
  • Saving for a Car: $130
  • Gas: $30
  • Entertainment & Misc: $40

Then, next to each line item , you can write down what was actually spent. This way, they can see where they overspent or where they saved additional money to be added towards their car fund. You may want to take them to a local bank to set up a checking and a savings account to become familiar with going into a branch as well as online banking features.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Michelle is a regular contributor to Talking Cents. She has taken several financial courses on debt management and is ready to circulate what she has learned from them as well as lessons from her own life- family to DIY projects to student loan debt.

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