In an effort to arm parents with tools and tips to educate their teens about responsible spending, American Express, along with financial expert Jean Chatzky has launched the Safe Spend program. Designed to help parents teach their kids how to “Practice Safe Spend” before going off or heading back to school, the program offers tips to make discussing the importance of money management a little easier.
Teenagers And Money
Since my husband and I are parents of two adult daughters, we’re extremely long familiar with teenagers and money and their spending habits. As you can guess, peer pressure placed on tweens and teenagers starting in middle school through college is astonishing. Every weekend the kids are off the local mall to open their purses for the latest and trendiest fashion outfits and accessories.
Our girls have now graduated college, entered grad school, married, become first-time home buyers and presented us with two grandchildren. I say we’ve done a pretty good job of having them become independent and leave the nest.
As parents, we encouraged our daughters to open up a credit card account in order that they could build a credit score record for the future. We explained that at some point in their lives, they were going to need an excellent credit score to use as a reference when renting their first apartment; purchasing a new car or applying for a mortgage when they wanted to buy a new home or condominium.
A credit card would also be necessary for something as mundane as purchasing airline tickets, renting a hotel room or renting a car when traveling on vacation.
Are you aware that more than half of parents (57%) with kids in high school and college give schools below average or failing grades in teaching kids responsible spending, with more than one-third (35%) giving a straight out ‘F’. This is compared to 37% of parents who give schools an ‘A’ or ‘B’ for teaching safe sex, according to a recent American Express Survey.
As our teens grow more independent and head off to college, making sure they are prepared for challenges down the road proves all the more important. And in addition to talking to our kids about sex, drugs and alcohol, preparing them for managing a budget and money makes a difference.
Here are some recommended financial tips about managing money to share with your teenagers:
- Protect yourself from a budget blowout: There are college expenses you plan for – food on the meal plan, books – and then there’s everything else. Laundry, late night pizza and other extras add up fast. Decide how much your teen will have for these variables, tell them to track all spending, then check back in a month to see how it’s working out.
- Understand that no means no: It happens to parents, too – paying for a killer outfit or electronic gadget with a credit or charge card, only to feel the delayed sticker shock at month’s end. Before your college student arrives on campus, talk about the types of spending temptations they may experience and should avoid while at school.
- Keep your teens close and their spending closer: A card linked to your account proves ideal for teens in emergency situations. Parents never know when their young adult might need immediate access to additional funds to get themselves out of a jam. For example, their car might break down and they need to pay for a tow. You can give your teen a charge card like the American Express Additional Card with Custom Limits, that allows you to quickly and easily raise their spending limit – granting them access to additional funds – simply by going online.
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