Teens and Summer Jobs

When teenagers get their first job, they’re very excited to make and have their own money. Managing that money, though, is often a bit of challenge. They may have held small jobs like babysitting or dog-walking before, but they don’t know how to use a bank account, write a check and kept track of what they’re spending. Many of them use debit cards without understanding how to monitor what they’re spending and overdraw their accounts quickly. This is especially true for teens with ADHD. It’s critical for parents to help their kids learn about money management and budgets.

I’ve worked with many kids who come to my psychotherapy office and have no idea how to make a simple budget. They don’t know how to total up monthly expenses and subtract them from their paycheck to see how much spending money they actually have or what they can save because no one has shown them. Several young adults have asked me to teach them how to write a check.

I advise newly employed teens to live in a cash world for a while so they can grasp how much money they actually have and see how they spend it. Forget debit cards: instead, once their checks are deposited, tell them to take out the sum that they’ll need for the week. Help them open up both checking and savings accounts so they can start to put away some portion of their earnings for something special in the future. This teaches how to save. Most kids proudly tell me how much money they are saving. It makes them feel like adults and contributes to the autonomy that teens need (and want) to develop. 

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