Banking for Teenagers

January 9, 2009

Teens need money. They have more of a social life than they did when they were mere youngsters and that takes funds. Now that they have a job and are making money, parents wonder if they will manage their money well. It may be time for a checking account.

Kids learn their money management skills from watching their parents. The age of thirteen or fourteen may seem like a young age to introduce financial skills like managing a checking account. But before you know it, those teenagers will be away from home and living in a dorm on a college campus. Do you want to trust them to make financial decisions on their own with no guidance?

Of course you don’t want that. The solution would be to introduce those much needed skills while they are still within your realm of influence. So as not to overwhelm them, start slowly and introduce a checking account when they are ready.

A checking account is a way for teenagers to manage the money that they make from their after school or summer job. Before they start working, it is a good idea to sit down with them and discuss money matters. It is never a good idea to spend all of your money and leave nothing for savings if you can help it.

As a teenager, they can learn to “help it”. Dividing their income between a checking and a savings account will ensure that they still have money left at the end of the summer. To give them an incentive, ask them if they have a goal for the saved money. That will be their motivation to continue to save.

A checking account sets limits on your teen that are imposed by someone other than you. A checking account is funded by the money that is put into it. Teens will learn that if the well runs dry, they have to wait until the next pay period to get more. That is how parents have to deal with money and now they will learn too.

A debit card associated with the checking account makes transactions easier. Since the card carries a MasterCard or Visa logo, it can also function like a credit card with a preset limit but none of the finance fees and charges. Online banking allows your teen to check their account statements on a regular basis and track their spending.

A checking account is not a headache but an opportunity. Once a week, why not have a meeting to ask and answer questions that they have about money. As their confidence with money increases, so will the responsibility. As a reward, your teen can enjoy more freedom.

Should teens have checking accounts? I think that if they are ready then it is a step in the right direction. The more financial savvy your teenagers learn at home, the better you will feel when they are ready to leave.


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