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Tips for Talking Money with Your Teen

Give your teen the gift of independence by helping them learn how to manage money.

Now is a great time to give your child a good financial foundation, because most teens want to learn how to manage money. Teenagers crave independence and feel more grown up when they manage their own finances, so take advantage of their willingness to learn from you.

Tips on teaching your teen about money

Your teen will learn by doing—avoid the temptation to manage their money or buy everything for them. 



Set your teen up with a joint Alaska USA savings and checking account that they can help manage. Have them download the Alaska USA app, so they can check their balance, manage deposits, and track debits online. Teach them about fees and show them how to avoid surcharges by using Alaska USA or Allpoint Network member ATMs. Encourage them to check their balance before making purchases, and teach them the consequences of incurring overdraft fees.


Set clear rules on what you will pay for, and then make adjustments to those rules as they get older. For example, start out by paying for their clothes, but let them pay for movies and other entertainment. Then, as they get older, give them a budget and allow them to buy their own clothes.

Help your teen understand how a household budget works. Consider setting family goals they can help you meet. For example, let them do the grocery shopping for one meal a month. Show them how to look for sales or use coupons. If your household actively works to use less water or electricity from month to month, consider some type of ‘profit sharing’ that will reward your teen for the family’s utility bill savings.


If you give your child an allowance, consider increasing the amount and their responsibilities as they get older. If you can, give your teen the opportunity to earn additional money by doing extra work that’s needed around the house. This helps them cement the connection between work and earnings. Once they have a job, show them how to review their pay stub and file their taxes. 


Help your teen understand the importance of having an emergency savings fund, and don’t bail them out when something happens. If they have a fender bender with the car, for example, have them pay for part of the cost of repairs, and have them take the bus until they can afford to pay their share. 


Show your teen how to set a budget and save to meet special goals, such as buying a special outfit or concert tickets. Resist the urge to ‘make up the difference’ for a major purchase. Studies show that children who learn to wait for gratification develop better emotional coping skills, achieve higher test scores, and have lower rates of addiction. And most importantly, it will also help them learn to live within their means and avoid debt later in life. 

At the same time, make saving fun. Consider helping your teen set a savings goal and kick in with a ‘Mom and Dad match’ of $10 for every $100 saved. 


Start the discussion today

Parenting a teenager is tough, but the money discussion is worth it. Be honest, and share stories about money mistakes you made when you were their age. Help them become aware of things they do that could lead to spending problems later in life, such as wanting to buy the latest pair of sneakers just to keep up with their friends. 


Everything you do now will help them better manage their money later. It’s a gift your teen will be grateful for someday, whether they realize it now or not.

Did you know?


A U.S. government survey found that 18% of 15-year-olds did not understand basic financial functions, such as building a simple budget, comparison shopping or understanding an invoice.


The average U.S. teen spends around 50% of their money on three things – food, clothing, and a car. 


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