Teens and their Greens -Spendthrift or Super saver?
Is your teen always asking for money to buy one thing or another? Do you constantly find your conversations with your teen revolving around “How much do you need?”
How often do you give in and cater to their demands? Are you feeling the pinch but don’t know how to say no for fear of being labelled a ‘stingy’ parent. It’s made worse during the holiday period where most parents fear that they will get financially overwhelmed by their youngsters’ needs. As on teen Yvonne Kanyi notes, teenagers all around the world have been blessed with different types of parents; some simply give them what they ask for and some like mine are harder to convince while others dish out flat out nos. But one thing I’m sure all parents have in common is the wonder about what we spend this money on.
Based on Yvonne’s experiences with her peers, she identified three main things that teenagers spend their money on. First and foremost is food. Today’s modern society has slowly but not so subtly etched the art of eating food into the luxury category. Going out for lunch is no longer about nourishment but taking pictures of the food with some obscure form of art and looking cool for dining at restaurants with obscenely priced foods.
For some teenagers, this means hanging out at Java every other day or dining at News Cafe or sipping coffee from Art Cafe every morning. Some do it for the Instagram, while others simply enjoy food and aspire to be food connoisseurs, though in most instances it’s the latter.
Another activity that is eating at your teenager’s wallet is entertainment. This is a broad term that can be used to coin a lot of things. But for the sake of this article, assume that it means going to events (day and night ones), buying movies, the Ksh.50 pirated copies (for those who don’t enjoy the luxuries of online streaming) and cinema tickets. Appearances must be kept up therefore most attend events, that happen both at night and day time. These include fashion events, food events as well as football matches. Not to mention the cost of Internet bundles.
Last but certainly not the least is transport. This is the largest expense for most and transport is needed in order to do the things mentioned above. Mobile taxis Apps received a lukewarm welcome when it was first launched, but you can be sure teenagers have always been happy about them. They are convenient, safe (to some extent) and available 24/7. But what attracts teenagers is the price tag; it’s definitely more than a matatu but it’s affordable for the service it provides.
Some feel too ratchet catching a bus and matatu to get from point A to point B thus it is the perfect solution. Some spend an average of Sh700 per day on Uber during school holidays. However, those who are more economical still spend a small fortune on transport as matatus are still quite a bit of money, if taken frequently.
Yvonne says, “I wouldn’t say that as teens, we spend money in the best way possible, but everyone has a thing or two to learn. It is of utmost importance to talk to your teens about money management and let them make choices for themselves for the greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. Don’t judge them for their choices but simply educate.”
That said, how then do you get your teen to understand and appreciate the value of money and cultivating a saving culture?
- Budget. As a parent you have the responsibility to ensure that your teen has knowledge on how to survive on their own. If you fail to do that, rest assured they will never gain independence from you. Find out what they spend their allowance on and help them work out a budget and savings plan. Even as you guide them on what is realistic, let them own their plan as they are more likely to stick to it.
- Open an account. Set your teen up with a student current account and debit card. This will ensure they can use the card without the monthly charges. Give them the amount that you spend on buying them clothes, entertainment, gifts and so on and have them pay for their expenses. When they mess up, resist the urge to bail them out. According to Jeffrey Arnett a co-author of When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up?, “It is important to make them responsible for their financial actions while the consequences are not serious”.
3. Try a mobile wallet. If opening an account for your kids or keeping them on a budget sounds too hectic; consider a mobile wallet like Zeep. Zeep is a mobile platform designed for caring parents who need to monitor cash entrusted to the dependants in their lives. The service allows you to send money through your mobile phone to dependants while giving you the ability to monitor and account for their spending at selected merchants and outlets. As a parent, Zeep allows you to monitor how they spend the money you give them.
It does this by sending you an SMS every time they make a purchase. So you get peace of mind and they can enjoy the freedom to shop, eat, enjoy movies and etc., all within the Zeep platform.
- Work for pay. And no this does not mean treating your teen as a slave. Basically, apart from their allowance (for those who receive it), let them do chores to earn some extra money. Together, come up with a remuneration list for chores done, i.e. washing the dishes can earn you Sh150 or making dinner Sh300 and so on. Encourage your teen to keep aside at least 10 per cent in a savings account.
5. Teach. Parents play an important role in shaping their kids’ financial behaviour and attitude towards money. Therefore, it is important to talk to your teen on how to spend wisely, the difference between a want and a need, the benefits of starting to save early (compound interest), giving back to society no matter how little it may be and so on. Then, lead by example. One way of doing this is by including your teenagers in some of your financial decisions, particularly as they reach their late teens. They will soon learn how things work.
6. Reward. To motivate your teen further, commit to match up a percentage of what they have saved every quarter. For example, if in 3 months, they have saved Sh5,000, deposit the same amount into their account as an incentive to keep up the good practice.
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