Teen Money Isn’t Teeny


How many of your clients have children who are at or nearing their teen years? Have these clients expressed any concern about the money habits they are seeing in their children? Affluence can provide financial security for families, but it can sometimes be what sets unrealistic expectations and poor money habits for children.


Statistics aren’t encouraging on this topic. According to the Phoenix Student Fiscal Fitness survey, most kids age 12 to 21 don’t understand basic financial matters. Only 12 percent could define the word “budget.” Just one out of ten receive personal financial education in school. According to the American Savings Education Council, two thirds of kids say they don’t know enough about money.


Some parents may have been too busy or preoccupied with their careers or other problems to relay healthy money lessons. Or they may have mistakenly over indulged their children’s desires, creating in them a sense of entitlement that’s difficult to modify.


Before you jump to any of the above conclusions, however, be sure to ask sensitive and sensible questions of your clients, such as:

    • How are your kids with money?
    • What attitudes or habits have you noticed in your children?
    • To what extent do you talk about money with them?
    • Do you have any worries about them you would like to discuss?


Consider offering a tutorial or workshop for clients’ children so they can learn basic financial principles and begin to think about goals for their money. You can ask them the questions that their parents haven’t thought to ask, and they will likely respond less defensively with you than with their parents. Various time value of money lessons are especially motivating for some teens. Ask them what kinds of things they like to buy or want to buy. Give them several examples of dollar costs of various popular items and what larger things the same dollars saved and growing can purchase down the road. These days you can use popular game show phrases to create choices that catch their attention, such as “Deal or No Deal?” Or “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”


I have done several kids’ sessions including group workshops. It was interesting to discover that in letting clients know about workshops I’m offering, they seemed to appreciate the value of the opportunity, even if they hadn’t gotten their kids scheduled in any of them yet. The benefit to offering education to clients’ children is to help them make better money decisions throughout their lives. Plus you gain client loyalty for future wealth management. Teen money isn’t teeny money because it represents the future savings habits they will have as adults. It also represents the wealth of their parents’ future assets, and those of people they refer to you. If kids haven’t learned good financial habits, you can offer the beginning steps that got missed along the way. When you go the extra mile by instilling some lasting healthy money habits, your referrals and client retention will grow along with the dollars they ask you to manage.

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