Teenagers don't typically face the stress of rent, utilities and car payments, which makes these years of relative financial freedom a great time to learn how to plan a budget. Teens who master financial planning early can begin saving, understanding how to make a budget and planning for the future. This can save them the stress and hardship of later credit problems and budgeting difficulties.
Parents and Teens
Teenagers are increasingly independent and are often fiercely resistant to any sort of parental control. Parents should offer teens help with planning their budgets, but should neither dictate the contents of the budget nor require that teens accept their help. If your teen is uninterested in your help, try giving her a budgeting book instead or showing her a rough sketch of how to make a general budget.
Teens should include regular, recurring expenses in their budgets. Required expenses, such as gas, should be listed first. Deducting the sum of these expenses from monthly income is the amount left over for discretionary expenses and savings. List regular discretionary expenses such as clothing and entertainment.
The teen years are a great time to begin saving. Teens don't have to pay many of the living expenses adults do, which frees up more money for savings. After a teen leaves home, a savings account can be a real boon, particularly during the first few months that a young adult struggles to make ends meet. Teens should try to save at least 10 percent of what they make each month. Teens may need their parents to co-sign for savings accounts.
Adjusting the Budget
Teens who find they're regularly going over their budget need to adjust their budgets. Hidden expenses such as a daily cup of coffee or a bag of chips at the gas station can greatly increase monthly expenses. Cutting back on discretionary expenses comes first. If money still is lacking, teens may need to take another job or work more hours. Teen can also reduce expenses by changing their cellphone plan, driving less frequently and taking other cost-saving measures.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.