University of Virginia

Money matters for teens

It’s pretty easy when you are living at home and don’t have to worry about rent, about food (other than Moe’s and Chipotle), about car insurance and maintenance, about laundry, cell phone bills and utilities and all the rest of it, to forget that you are just a few short years away from being financially independent.

You want to be independent in many ways, just not necessarily financially (yet).

But that time is coming fast, and the way you handle the money you have now will make a huge difference. Even if you don’t have a steady job, money passes through your hands. Gifts, allowance, part-time work, whatever the source, you are in control of a certain amount of money. When you get to college, that amount will increase. How responsible are you being with what you have spend right now?

Here are a few ideas.

If you have a checking account, balance it. If you don’t know what that means, send us an email and we’ll help.

If you use a debit card, write down your purchases when you make them. Don’t rely on online banking to tell you how much money you have. In fact, speaking of mobile banking, do you really think it’s safe and secure? Why?

When you make purchases, do you try to get good deals or do you just impulse buy? With sites like FatWallet, Slickeals and Retailmenot, it’s hard to defend not looking for bargains.

Have you ever talked to your parents seriously about money (and a conversation that begins with “Can I please have…”¬†does not count)? For starters, try asking them about their regular monthly bills so you can get an idea of what you can expect in the real world. How much does this standard of living to which you’ve been accustomed cost?

On a bigger scale, do you understand or pay attention to what is going on in Washington? Do you see “the government” as some magical provider of benefits like roads, education, and health care, or do you know that the government just takes money in from taxpayers and lenders and then pushes it back out?

Finally, when you think about money and financial matters, what’s your biggest unanswered question? Finding answers to those questions now can avoid mistakes later.

As you start to treat money with a sense of responsibility, you’ll develop good financial habits that will put you ahead of the game. Please let us know if we can help you along the way.