Continuing our blog series on teaching kids about money and saving, this time we will turn our focus to teaching teens about money.  Teenagers are good candidates to teach about checking accounts, credit, creating their own budget, and understanding the financial costs of the things they want to do. 

Checking Account

It is surprising how many young adults don’t understand how checking accounts work.  Many have never learned how to write a check.  You can help your child learn how to navigate the banking world with the following tips:

  • Show them how to fill out checks and deposit slips.
  • Show them how to use an ATM.
    • Talk about protecting their PIN.
    • Emphasize that there may be charges for using an ATM that is not affiliated with their bank.
  • Help them track their account balance.
    • Explain about overdraft charges.
    • Help them understand the balance the bank has for their account may not include some transactions. 
  • Emphasize the importance of balancing their bank account each month when the bank statement arrives.
  • Discuss internet security if they use public Wi-Fi.


Even many adults do not understand how credit works, so it’s important you educate your teen about this issue before he or she goes out on his or her own.  Your teen will have a greater chance of meeting his life goals if he understands the benefits and costs of credit. 

  • Loans
    • Help your child understand that the decision to take out a loan involves more than “Can I afford the monthly payment?” 
    • Have them consider three items:
      • The original cost of the item.
      • The total interest to be paid over the course of the loan.
      • The total cost including interest.  Looking at the total cost often leads a person to delay purchasing the item until the money has been saved to cover the original cost.    
  • Credit Cards
    • Teach your child the importance of paying the entire balance on the credit card each billing cycle to avoid finance charges and other fees.
    • Help them to compare credit cards to choose the one that best suits their needs.
    • Consider putting a low credit limit on the card to avoid the possibility of your child building up a credit balance they are unable to pay.


  • Have your child create a budget for the items you normally purchase for them such as clothing, school supplies, school activities, and school meals.
  • Give them the money each week or month that you would normally spend on those items.  Allow them to spend the money without intervention from you.
  • Be prepared: your child may run out of money the first few times.  Resist the urge to give them more money, especially if they have spent too much on one item or another.  Being out of money and having to wait for the next “payday” will be a great learning tool. 

Other Suggestions

  • If your teen has a cell phone, consider having them pay the extra charges if they go over the amount of data allocated to them. 
  • Ask your teenager to plan the next family vacation, including preparing a budget and making the reservations. 
    • During the trip have them keep track of how much you are spending and compare it to the budget they created. 

There are so many good lessons you can teach your kids about money when they get to this age of deeper understanding. By helping your teens learn more about how money works and how they can leverage it to make their lives more fulfilling, you are doing a wonderful service to them. Have questions about helping your teens learn about money? Please reach out!

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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