How to talk to teenagers about money

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Is it time to talk to your teenager about money? Samke Mhlongo shares the importance of teaching them about money management so that they can form healthy relationships with it. Pictures: Supplied

How many times have you taken the money lessons that you have learnt and taught them to your children? In previous articles, we discussed the importance of teaching children how to manage their own money. I received positive feedback on the basic finance tips and tricks that you have been teaching your little ones. But, I also received an anonymous message from a father whose teenage daughter won’t participate in any of the money habits that he is trying to instill in the home. His message reads:

4 crucial money lessons every parent should teach their kids 

I am a father to a 17-year-old daughter. I have spoken to her about opening a bank account, but she is not interested. I even promised her extra money so that she can save. How can I motivate her?”

Firstly, I’d like to commend this father for taking such a keen interest in his daughter’s financial well-being. Secondly, this story highlights just how difficult it is to teach teenagers how to be financially responsible when they are seeing their favourite “Instagrammers” living lavish lifestyles, traveling around the world and carrying the latest Louis Vuitton bags with no apparent day job. So, how do we teach our teenagers and young adults how to save and take their financial well-being into their own hands? I turned to my trusted social media community and experts for ideas.

  1. Basic bank accounts are so yesterday!

Bank accounts are important, but one that only offers banking will not attract your teenager to engage in money management. Finance institutions need to innovate to cater to this market. Managing executive for Consumer Banking at Nedbank, Mutsa Chironga, explains why his bank decided to introduce Unlocked.me, which is not only a fee-free bank account aimed at university students, but a holistic portal that helps them select a career path based on their grades, apply for a job, and even buy a laptop at a discount. “The real point is that traditional banking solutions are only part of what today’s generation wants and needs. The big problem young people are struggling with today is how to make sure that they achieve the future they envisage, while maintaining a certain lifestyle,” he says. The heightened levels of peer pressure, thanks to social media, means that banks need to play an even more visible role in not just offering banking, but the promise of the youth’s desired current and future lifestyle aspirations.

  1. Investments are cool!

I am praying that my daughter does not turn out to be anything like the teenager that I was because if she does, it will be near impossible to convince her to save. When I was younger, I found saving to be boring and it gave me nothing to brag about. That is unless you decide to take out savings that make for good lunch break conversations. Certified planner and founder of MSM Property Fund, Musi Skosana, says he’s seen a rise in the number of young people with an active interest in their local and international property unit trust investments, taken out for them by their parents. Starting at as little as R300 per month, even a newborn (with forms signed by their legal guardian) can own his/her own share of properties in the UK and Germany. Think about it, mom and dad! It’s so much cooler to check how your London properties are doing than your 32-Day Notice Deposit right?!

  1. Don’t just follow Kylie’s Instagram, follow her footsteps, too

Many of us dismissed news of reality TV star Kylie Jenner being the youngest billionaire in history as a “rich kid” story. But, in numerous interviews following the announcement, she made it clear that her fortune was self-made and did not include a single dollar of inheritance money. While a teenager may not want to do chores around the house in order to earn extra money, finding a passion or hobby that they can monetise on will be a much easier sell. Entrepreneurship is a highly effective way of teaching young adults money management skills, never mind the financial security it provides given South Africa’s over 50% youth unemployment rate.

What parents say   

I asked some parents for tips on what works in their home, and this is what they had to say. Busisiwe Mahlaba, managing director at Blue Pencil Education Services says her daughter has been managing her own money since she was eight years old. She is now so financially savvy that she sometimes blesses mommy with money, even though she hasn’t left the house yet. Lebo Lokotwayo, mom of two boys and managing director at a PR firm says she sets her sons’ desired Christmas gifts as an annual financial goal they work towards throughout the year. She takes them through their bank and savings statements every month, and one even managed to buy himself an Apple watch that costs over R5 000! Proud dad, Kagiso Mosoang, has used his daughter’s school entrepreneurship days to develop her taste for making her own money. “Her bank account at times looks better than ours in the household,” he concludes.

Here’s to a financially-free generation that will be thankful for the lessons their parents taught them!

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