Money Advice to My Teenage Son

My son is a teenager, and thinks his life will be so good no matter what he does.  This includes money.  Here is the advice I give him, and fervently hope he listens to and takes to heart:

  • Do not finance a vehicle!  Please, you are young…don’t sign your life away to impress the girls and other boys at school by trying to drive something that you can’t pay cash for.  If you finance a vehicle at age 16, by the time you get to college it won’t be impressive enough to catch the eye of that sorority sister who is in your english comp class, but the payments will still be there and you will probably still be upside-down in it.
  • Do everything you can to get scholarships, grants, work-study, and pay cash for your college tuition and textbooks.  Your grandma, my mother, had student loans from pharmacy school for FIFTEEN YEARS…that’s longer than you’ve been alive so far!  Student loan payoff terms are getting longer and longer, and it’s just not worth it.  Slow down, go part-time and work while in college if you can’t get enough free money.  I am doing it, and it is so much better than going into debt. 
  • Stay far FAR away from the credit card tables at school.  Thankfully, the high schools haven’t started letting those financial predators on premises yet, but I see them every single semester on the college campus.  You are very good at math, so do the numbers to prove to yourself that credit cards are a really bad deal for the consumer if you don’t want to take my word for it.
  • You have seen me do a budget for over a year now, and I have let you watch in the hopes that you will do this for yourself.  I also hope you noticed how much we have been paying to get out of debt!  If you do a budget your entire life, and LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS, you won’t fall into debt like I did.  Learn from your mom’s mistakes here, kiddo!
  • Start saving for an emergency fund.  You have seen me handle car problems and fix the heat in the dead of winter because I had an emergency fund.  It doesn’t need to earn much interest…just have it.
  • Start saving for retirement as soon as you have some extra money.  Even just $50 per month at your age will grow into an amazing amount by the time you get old enough to be concerned about it (once you figure out that you might possibly live past the age of 30).  You’re starting to work with compound interest problems in math, so you can probably now figure how starting early will make you literally millions of dollars. 

I learned bad money management techniques from my parents, and from my son’s father.  I can only hope the experience of my son being involved in our climb to get out of debt - when he is old enough to understand it - will leave a lasting impression on him for the rest of his life.  Every parent wants his or her child to have a better life and be more successful, and I am no different.  I won’t be able to “bless” my son with actual money.  But I do hope I can lift the money “curse” by teaching him a better way than what I learned at his age!

This is part of a series “Money Matter For All Ages”  Previous posts are:

As usual, I will do a full wrap-up of the project at the finish, so keep an eye out for it!  This one promises to be really good ;)