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Parenting Teens - Christian Family Resources

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The teen budget

The teen budget
Editor's note: This is the first of two articles on the teen budget.

When your children reach age 13, place them on the teen budget, which consists of the following categories: giving, 10 percent; community taxes, 5 percent; short-term savings, 25 percent; long-term savings, 25 percent; expenses, 10 percent; and spending,
25 percent.

Take your children to the bank and have them open savings and checking accounts. Be sure they ask all the right questions and understand how their accounts will work.

Teach your teenagers how to reconcile their bank statements and how to keep a check register. Also, make any and all payments due to them for allowances and job board earnings by check. This will remove the temptation to spend cash before it's in the bank.

There are two categories in the teen budget that weren't in the minibudget. The first of these is community taxes. Jesus said, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21 NIV). We can read the story surrounding this verse with our teenagers when they add this category to their budgets.

One thing we can do is establish a community tax box. We should contribute to it ourselves, perhaps matching what our teenagers put into it. Later, we can decide as a family how this money is to be spent.

The other added category in the teen budget is expenses. Perhaps the largest budget category in adult life is regular bills and expenses. This money could go for lessons of some sort, monthly dues at the community center, a telephone of their own (billed directly to them), or several less expensive items.

When our teens start getting their bills, we should work with them to make sure they get into the habit of keeping their paperwork in order and paying their bills on time.

Finally, remember that the expense category should not go to the payment of a debt as a result of buying something over time with payments. That would invert the save-then-spend policy you're trying to teach teens and put them on the world's track of buying before paying.

Editor's note: This article was excerpted from the book Financial Parenting, by
Larry Burkett and Rick Osborne. Rick is president of Lightwave Publishing and Lightwave Kids Club and is an associate writer and spokesperson for Money Matters for Kids. He lives in British Columbia with his wife and three children.