Tara Crooks
Limitless Contributor

By Mary Hunt

Military Spouse Guest Writer and founder of DebtProofLiving.com


They want independence and freedom. You want them to take responsibility for their actions. They want decision-making power. You want them to make the right choices. They are struggling to break away. You can't bear the thought of letting go. Welcome to adolescence.


As the mom of two adult sons, I know a thing or two about teens and money. If there is one thing I've learned it is this: If you trust your teens with some amount of money and then allow them to make their own independent financial decisions on a level commensurate with their age and ability—then back off to allow them to suffer the consequences of those decisions—you will address the five key motivators that influence kids:


POWER. Knowing their parents trust them with money empowers kids, particularly teens, to control some of their environment. This encourages maturity.


FREEDOM. Managing their own money gives teens the freedom they want to make their own decisions, but gives it to them gradually, as they are able to handle it. Holding tightly to the purse strings keeps teens tied to the apron strings. Money management is such a great way to begin cutting those bonds gradually and will make for a much easier transition when it's time for those kids to fly out of the nest and into the real world.


FUN. Teens think managing money and being responsible for how they spend it (or don't) is fun. So do adults. It's the mismanagement of money and creation of debt that causes so much stress. By allowing your teens to experience handling money apart from financial stress is a great teaching tool.


BELONGING. A teenager's participation in managing the family's financial resources creates a sense of community. Teens need to belong and to know they are an important part of something bigger than themselves. This doesn't mean your teen is suddenly responsible for the household income or needs to carry the burden of financial stress. But realizing that he or she has a stake in the way the money is being handled will help to develop those important qualities of maturity and wisdom.


MASTERY. Once your young adult understands the significance of his or her role as a money manager, that teen will be open to concepts such as compounding interest, consumer debt, handling a checking account or credit card, and the basics of investing. Never miss a valuable teaching moment.


If you'd like to read about how we raised our sons to be financially confident adults, pick up my new book, Raising Financially Confident Kids (Revell, 2012). It's the story of our journey and the specific money plan we created for our kids, starting before they reached adolescence, at age 10.


It has been twenty-eight years since we designed our plan for our boys. We've had plenty of time to evaluate and the results are in. In all its simplicity, our plan was successful. It accomplished its purpose. We put our kids in charge of their own spending decisions. We gave them money to manage, rules to follow so that they included giving and saving as part of our family's values. We gave them lots of financial responsibility and stepped back into the position of advisors, even as we were getting our own financial house in order.


Both boys taught themselves to be frugal because they became voracious savers. They learned early that money in the bank changes everything. Both boys paid cash to buy their first cars (clunkers!). Both sons opted to live at home while going to college (to save money, Mom!) and remarkably both boys became homeowners in pricey Orange County, Calif., by the age of 25. No debt and an appetite for saving have their benefits.


Our role as parents is to know our children, to discover their gifts and abilities, and to encourage and train them in keeping with those characteristics and tendencies. Money is an excellent tool to help get the job done.

As a bonus, your children will go into the real world well-equipped to manage effectively their resources by making good decisions.


About the Author

Mary Hunt is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 23 books, as well as a sought-after motivational speaker who helps men and women battle debt. She is founder and publisher of Debt-Proof Living, a highly regarded and popular consumer organization consisting of an interactive website, monthly newsletter and personal finance tools. Hunt's books have sold more than one million copies, and her syndicated daily newspaper column is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Everyday Cheapskate readers nationwide. She speaks widely on consumer finance topics and has appeared on shows such as The Today Show, Oprah, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Fox and Friends and Focus on the Family. She and her husband live in Southern California.


Copyright 2013 Mary Hunt