What Skill Do You Wish You Learned In Your Teenage Years?

If you could go back to your teenage years, what would you do differently?

  • Is there someone you wished you’d ask out on a date?
  • An argument or fight you wished you handled differently?
  • A path not taken you wished you did?
  • A skill you wished you learned then?

This list is mild compared to the list recently compiled by the Huffington Post.

I don’t have too many regrets from my teenage years. I should have asked that girl to prom, and I might have benefited from going away to college, are two that come to mind. 

When I think back about it now as a husband dad, and all-around adult, I wish I knew more about money, and took a formal typing class. I still just use two fingers.

Money is a life skill, and unforatnantly not to make schools teach it. Only six states require a stand-alone personal finance course to be taken in high school — Alabama, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

Many parents don’t have a clue either. My parents showed me how to balance a checkbook. I don’t often use a checkbook today. 

I became one of those parents too, fumbling along until I was forty years old, and finally woke up and learned how to handle money.

I had to self educate myself, by reading books, blogs, and listening to podcasts. After five years we’re able to pay off our consumer debt, and my focus shifted on teaching my kids as much as possible about money before they began their financial lives.


How to Teach Teenagers About Money

In my own experience, it’s key to just involved your kids in money discussions.

I try and find a topic they are interested in talking about and incorporate money into the discussion. Explain to them how much the high-speed internet cost, or the contract on their smartphone.

Have younger kids? Explain to them that buying ice cream at the grocery store is much better than a single trip to an ice cream shop. The benefit more ice cream for less money!

I’m a dad of three, and when they were in their early teens, my wife and I showed them our budget. Our income, our expenses, everything. We asked them their opinions on where and how we should spend our money.

They felt empowered to be talking about adult things. Sure their focus was on the latest smartphones and the faster internet, but it started the conversation. It helped my wife and I too because if we yelled at them to shut the lights, television, or computer off when not in use it had meaning because they knew how much we paid for electricity each month.

We found that to teach our three kids money skills, we had to increase our knowledge, and get our budget in order.

Kids learn by example, and through osmosis, and if you aren’t doing a good job in any area of your life they pick up on it, and may duplicate the behavior as they get older.

My three children ages 21-year-old son, 21-year-old daughter (twins), and 17-year-old son all have different money personalities. Although they’ve all been raised in the same environment.

Our daughter is the most responsible. I think this goes to reinforce what 

scientists have believed all along that girls mature faster than boys.

Although all three work, use cash, and have no debt is a great start.

Our oldest son is a paycheck to paycheck kinda guy and often doesn’t save for future expenses. He also leaves for work 10-minutes before his shift. But he avoids debt, so far so good. His job offers a 401K which he’s enrolled in and saves 5%.

Our daughter balances saving and spending well, with almost $5K banked. She leaves 30-minutes before her shift starts. Her job offers a 401K which she’s enrolled in and saves 5%.

Our youngest son likes to spends, but if there is something he wants, he hustles for it. He’ll work more hours or sell old stuff for extra money. He has about $500 in savings, and also leave 30-minutes before he starts work. No retirement saving yet, he focused on building up saving for college.

My wife and I have created an environment where they know they can talk about money and that we believe debt is a four-letter word. Now that we believe our kids are set up to be successful with their finances, I’ve turned my focus to others.

Helping Others

Over the years I have coached many family and friends on managing their money. I’ve sat down with serval of them to review their finances and offer suggestions on budget, savings, and often pointed them to resources to read or listen too. All with the goal to improve their knowledge on the topic.

I’ve worked with our local school’s district to implement a financial literacy curriculum for all K-12, we did however fall short on make a stand-alone personal finance class mandatory for graduation. That’s something I’m still pursuing.

I strongly believe if we can teach students good money habits while they’re teenagers, they have a better chance of being successful in their futures.

It’s the main reason I wrote: “How to Rock Your Money” – A Teenagers Guide to Financial Success.

The goal of the “How to Rock Your Money” book is to help expose young adults to money topics and build a healthy relationship with money before they begin their financial lives and making any significant financial decisions like college.

I believe it’s a great resource for teenagers or homeschooling parents.

Please check out a preview here.

I’m a firm believer that our education system needs to change. That we need to be focused on teaching our children life skills they will use for their entire lives, instead of just memorizing facts and figures. If the school system won’t do it, then we as parents need to step up and do our part.

Good luck teaching your kids! Let me know if I can help in any way.