How to teach teenagers about managing money (when you’re not doing so great yourself)

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Teach Teenagers About Money

It’s tough to teach teenagers about managing money, especially if you’re not doing so great yourself!

But we all know that money management is an important skill that your teenagers will use every day of their adult life. They may never use Algebra II again, but money skills are vital.

I have an episode of the Dollars and Sense podcast to help you teach teenagers about managing money. Click here to listen

Our motivation to be teaching teenagers about money

  • Other people’s bad examples are all around us, including the US government.
  • We want them to avoid excessive debt. Did you know that college debt now exceeds credit card debt? Unbelievable!
  • Someone is watching you! So teach them how to avoid the mistakes you made.
  • We want to avoid boomerang kids, who are adults that return to live in their parents’ home, usually for financial reasons. Imaging the movie “Failure to Launch -Homeschool Style!” Always remember, we are raising adults, not children.

How to Teach Money Skills to a Teenager

  • Go with a natural style. Talk about money, what things cost, what people earn, decisions and trade-offs  a you go about your day. Stores are a great place to talk about money and choices.
  • Use real life examples. Share your own money stories (good or bad)  or those of people you read about in the news.
  • Get someone else to teach your teenagers. For example: Sunday school class, Scouts, or a homeschool co-op class. See the Resources below for curriculum that works well in a group setting.
  • Make personal finance a required class for graduation from your homeschool high school. The Resources below has several options for curriculum.

What to Teach Teenagers About Money

  • What things cost and what jobs earn.
  • Career exploration and post high school education.
  • Checking accounts and financial software such as Quicken or Ace Money Lite (it’s what I use and it’s free)
  • Budgets. One teenager I know is given $150/month as an allowance, but she has to buy everything: clothes, food, entertainment and gas.
  • Avoid credit card debt, but start building credit history in college.
  • Student loan debt. With her dad out of work, one college student chose a state school when shown the debt she would have from staying at a private college.
  • Taxes and federal spending. My husband says it’s his goal to raise taxpayers! We should all want that.
  • Entrepreneurship. My Micro Business for Teens books help a teenager earn money while learning a lot about business. Starting a Micro Business, a public television show features six students who started their own micro businesses. Ethan pays his own cell phone bill by teaching guitar and Linnea paid her way to China by tutoring.
  • Investing. Experts at eToro recommend you to try a stock market simulation game.

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Schoolhouse Teachers  offers my Career Exploration 8 week class

Free! National Endowment Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Curriculum

Generation Change for youth groups and Foundations in Personal Finance for schools at

Discovering God’s Way of Handling Money from 10 weeks, individual or class use

Money Matters for Teens Ages 15-18 Edition by Larry Burkett (oldie but still available on

Micro Business For Teens books at

Starting a Micro Business television show on YouTube

Our federal budget graphically displayed at

Tax return simulations from the IRS at Understanding Taxes


I hope you’re on your way to raising money-smart teenagers!

Carol Topp, CPA

Formerly Dollars and Sense now Homeschool CPA on Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network

How to teach homeschool teenagers about money


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