Christian teen budgeting

By glblguy

Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Note from Glblguy: While the title of this article is Christian teen budgeting due to the Biblical references and emphasis on tithing, the majority of the concepts apply regardless of whether you are a Christian or not.

Budgeting along with spending less than you earn (i.e. following your budget) to me is one of the most important financial lessons you can teach your teenager. As your children enter the teen years, the the lure of electronic gadgets, name brand clothing, and expensive cars will begin to take their money.

I mention all of this as my teenage son asked us the other night if we could give him $100.00 and let him go shopping at the mall. This wasn’t something I was comfortable yet as I know all too well he would return with 2 shirts from Aeropostale and have spent the entire $100.00. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with Aeropostale clothing, but we buy it when only when it’s on sale.

Anyway, I digress. As your teen gets older and begins working and making their own money I believe that it’s critically important to teach them to budget and manage their spending. As Proverbs 22:6 says, if we train them early, as they grow older they won’t depart from our training. If your teen can budget the small amounts of money they have in their early teen years than managing the larger amounts of money they receive later will just come naturally.

Christian Teen Budgeting

Here are just a few tips to get your teen started on a budget:

  • Discuss the realities of money. Have a discussion with your teen about income taxes, FICA taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, etc. Make them aware of all of those little “hidden” expenses that they may not yet be aware of.
  • Determine your teens income. Work with them to determine their current expenses and then place them into appropriate budget categories. Help them layout a simple budget that includes all of their various expenses and how to allocate spending limits to avoid overspending.
  • Emphasize paying themselves first. Teach them to place money into savings or investment accounts first then live on the remainder.
  • Don’t forget to tithe. Tithing is Christian habit you want to emphasize and get your teen started on early. Discuss with your teen what tithe amount they are comfortable with. Understand parents that this is a very personal decision. Sure, the Bible suggests 10%, but it’s more important for your teen to be a joyful giver and to give from the heart.
  • Develop a written budget. Use a piece of paper, a spreadsheet or even budgeting software to create and track their budget. Teach them how to enter expenses and categorize them in the appropriate categories. I highly recommend a zero based budget, where each and every dollar they make has an assigned home in a budget category.
  • Think long term. Discuss with your teen some of things they would like to buy in the future. Maybe a car, pay for college, or a new laptop.
  • Schedule a check in meeting with them. Determine how often you and your teen should meet to review their budget and progress on staying within their budget guidelines. When they overspend, teach them how to move money from one category to another. This is an important exercise and will show them how overspending in one area can hurt them in another. Don’t bail them out, some lessons are better learned the hard way!
  • Praise them. When they create their first budget, keep it updated consistently, and stay within their budget make sure you praise them. Remember, we’re trying to establish a habit here to help insure their future financial success!

While researching this article, I came across a neat site called Give Me 20 run by PSCU Financial Services.  It contains lots of great info for teens including definitions, financial tips, calculators, videos and lots more. Well done PSCU.

Photo by: Axel Bührmann

What additional tips can you offer? Did I miss anything? Disagree with something I listed? Add a comment and make this article even better!

5 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Christian teen budgeting”

  1. Ryan McLean Says:

    This is a great article. I am just out of my teens and these are things my parents didn’t do for me. But somehow I worked it out for myself which was good. So great article

  2. Mo Money Says:

    This is good info for teens. Crown Ministries has a program for teens that is based on a class, and it is excellent.

  3. Rob Viglione Says:

    Great advice…one of the best lessons you can teach your children (probably earlier than teenage years, though) is that we live in a world of finite resources. When children learn this fundamental axiom of nature then they learn how to develop their own heirarchy of values and allocate resources in accordance with that set. I wrote a similar article in case you want to check it out:

    The biggest takeaway is that setting a budget for your children is critical. You can tie that to work if you’d like, though doing so is not necessary. I like to link money to work to show children that you must earn the right to acquire items of value, but the big thing is that they learn they cannot have everything they want.

  4. Marcy Says:

    One useful technique for teaching money skills to kids is to decide on an appropriate budget for a category–say you spend $200 for your son’s clothing twice a year, for example. So you talk with him about his needs–new athletic shoes, a warm jacket, and new jeans. then give him the money and let him shop. The trick to it is that both you and he understand that if he chooses not to get the things on the list and instead gets two Aeropostale shirts, he does without the shoes, etc. even if it means patching them with duck tape. That $200 is all the budget holds for clothing til spring. I did this with three kids in turn. Two did great, one wore a too small jacket and very dangerous (potential blow-out factor very high!) jeans that first year, but now is a careful and smart shopper. I started with them at age 14–some kids could handle it younger, I’m sure.