The topic of money should never be off the table. If we want to raise teenagers who have a healthy relationship with money, we need to talk about it. For some, this seems obvious and it’s a walk in the part. For others, it’s more like nails on a chalkboard or two stray cats getting in a victorious Tik Tok street fight (you know the ones).
For those who are having difficulties finding ways to speak to or capture the attention of their teens, we’ve outlined five outside-the-box ways to engage them.
Good luck – you’re gonna need it! (jk)
5 Unique Ways to Talk to Your Teens About Money
1) Let them eavesdrop on your money conversations
Your teen may not be excited to have a formal sit down discussion about money. Instead, let her overhear you talking about money regularly.
This is often a more “authentic” way to broach the subject of money with your teen. Teens can be highly suspicious (and critical) of their parents’ motives, particularly when it comes to money. When they “overhear” your money conversations, their guard is down and they’re more likely to accept your words without qualification.
In a perfect world, she might even try to join the conversation or even bring up a money-related topic that piqued her interest. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of forward momentum to get the money talks flowing.
2) Enjoy a money-themed movie night
Introduce money concepts through a medium everyone can enjoy — movies. Find a movie or documentary where a character’s relationship with money is the central part of the storyline. A movie about money can help spark interesting conversations and even some questions about a term or concept your teen doesn’t understand. It also gives you an easy in for starting a money-related conversation without her giving you the death stare.
Here are a few movie suggestions with some classics and more recent recommendations.
- Wall Street
- Catch Me If You Can
- Jerry McGuire
- Slumdog Millionaire
- The Company Men
- The Pursuit of Happyness
- The Big Short
- Inside Job
3) Give them the straight facts
You might surprise your teen with your openness and transparency if you are willing to share your budget, bills, and other details regarding your finances. Show them how much you make, how much you spend every month on expenses, and how much you have leftover.
Bringing them into your money world is incredibly powerful. It’s real to them, it shows you valuable their input and respect them as an equal. This shows them you trust them.
Further, ask for suggestions such as where you could trim the budget. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about things like fixed expenses and discretionary spending. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few conversations before the information sinks in. Building good money habits early in life is one of the keys to financial success in adulthood.
4) Put them in the driver’s seat
Most teenagers are eager to have more control over their lives, they want the power that comes with being an adult. So, give them a taste. Put them in the financial driver’s seat and let them decide how to budget and spend the family’s money for the next month.
Of course, you’ll be there as a mentor to ensure your monthly salary isn’t used to buy a boat or new iPhone’s for everyone, but make an effort to give them control. There’s no better way to learn than by doing. The opportunity to make real-world decisions with real-world implications is the epitome of hands-on learning.
5) Make a game of it
Plan a family game night and introduce money concepts through play. Engage in friendly competition with a round of Monopoly or Life. Or, if you want to up the ante, have a poker night. Tell your teens they have to use their own money if they’re going to play. It takes plenty of valuable skills to be a good poker player or to win in money management.
- How to calculate risk
- The importance of delayed gratification
- How to control your emotions
- The difference between luck and skill
How Will You Start the Conversation?
Fostering an environment where money talk is commonplace and encouraged is one of the best gifts you can give. As you can see, this doesn’t require having formal, “sit-down” conversations. Sometimes, the best strategy is to introduce money talks in an indirect way and let your child’s natural curiosity and interests take over. You know how different the conversation is when it’s their idea!
And remember, this isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. The more you talk about money and the more opportunities you give them to learn, the better equipped they’ll be to take care of their finances when they leave the nest and go out in the real world.