Giving teens an allowance can help them learn how to manage money. But what do you do when your teen keeps running for you for cash anyway? “I’ll just advance next week!” they say, or “I’ll pay you from my next babysitting job.”
Unless he has a sound business plan, the possibility of taking out loans or advances is something you want to discourage right away, no matter how old your child is. Teaching a child to budget and live within his means is one of the most serious lessons we need to impart as parents.
That said, it may be useful to investigate exactly why your child always runs short of money. Are you giving her too little? Do her friends have expensive habits, which she is picking up as well? Or perhaps she is “irresponsible” with her money and spends it on her friends.
Sit down with your teen and divide her lump sum allowance into “necessities” and “luxuries.” Encourage her to keep a logbook of her daily expenses. Help identify the little culprits that add up, like passing on jokes via SMS that eat up her load, or buying bottled water when she could just as easily bring a thermos from home.
If she can prove to you that her daily necessities are not being met by her allowance, perhaps you should consider a raise. But if it’s clear that luxuries are causing a cash drain, tell her frankly that she should indulge in them less frequently. Tell her point-blank that you may not be as rich as the parents of her friends so she has to be realistic about what is affordable. It may be trite, but for whatever it’s worth, restate that friends that give her a hard time about not being able to afford the best are not real friends.
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