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Should Your Teen Pay Board?

Over the last few years I have been keenly following the new financial literacy education curriculum being rolled out across public schools in America.  In Colorado, Texas, the new financial curriculum aims to combat the financial debt by teaching children financial competence. One of the most important aspects of the preschool curriculum is conscious buying.

Students are asked ‘why’ they are buying an item.  They are taught that it is not good enough to buy an item just to have it.  If students don’t have a strong enough rationale as to why they want to buy it they are discouraged to.

I have met quite a few teenagers from very wealthy families who carry a very strong sense of responsibility and respect for their inheritance.  I really admire families who are in a position of privilege and are able to instil a sense of purpose into their children.  They give me hope that things are not the enemy.  A lack of purpose is.

When teenagers don’t have a purpose that is bigger than themselves they will always choose to live a life that is self-indulgent. We have to make sure that our young people have an understanding of how their resources are meant to be used.  We have to make sure they have answered the ‘why’ question.

Here are a few practical thoughts about teaching financial responsibility:

Should parents charge their teenager’s board?  I say start from the very first pay check.  A teenager’s first job really is their first taste of ‘money in, money out’.  It is a great time to help them understand life has expenses that you can’t avoid.  But here is a novel way of handling their board.  If you don’t really need the money, take their token contribution and keep it in a bank account for them.  Think of it like forced savings and present it to them on their 30th birthday.  Give it back to them at a time when they will need it more and possibly spend it more wisely.  Imagine what you could have done with $10,000 when you were 30.

How much should I spend on Christmas and Birthday presents?  I am not a fan of parents spoiling their teenagers.  Christmas and birthdays will come and go without so much as a thank you some years, so be realistic about what you can afford and what you can’t.  A family I work with has seven children.  I have no idea how they afford to put them all in a private school but they do.  They have decided they can’t afford to buy seven mobile phones (and seven mobile phone plans) so the kids understand this is something they can have when they get a job in year 11 and 12. They do make sure their kids get a whole lot of love which I think will serve them better in the long run.

THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family.  If you have a topic you would like me to blog about email me at  and I will respond to it as soon as I can.

If you would like to book me to speak at your school or community event email

MOST IMPORTANTLY if your teenager needs support from a psychologist, counsellor or mentor Youth Excel would love to help. You can contact me at

What Teenage Girls Don’t Tell their Parents is available at for $24.95 plus postage.

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