Is it time to introduce money management to your teen? Here's how


How do you introduce money management tracking with them?

  • Start before they hit high school if possible.  If you haven't started it yet, start now.

Why will they benefit while in high school?

  • They will experience guilt-free spending.  Priceless.
  • They will be able to say "no" to something because they are saving for something bigger.

How should they actually start?

  • With so much coming at them, starting simply is crucial.
  • Start with pen and paper.
  • Avoid the fancy money software. . . at least until later.
  • Paper helps them more clearly see the movement of their money from category to category.

What are 6 things to remember as you pick money management software for your young adult:

Again, we strongly suggest starting with pen and paper before moving to this level.  Many will be happy with just a simple, direct pen and paper system.  But if you have a teen or young adult that is ready to level-up to something more, you will find these 6 items helpful as you review the more popular software programs.  Remember, that you do NOT have to spend to buy the latest and greatest financial digital masterpiece.  Many digital software packages are free.  Look for:


#1 Clear, easy spending categories you can tailor to your needs

While some categories are obvious such as entertainment and food, your young adult might want/need Prom, Girlfriend, and Car.  College students might want Rent, Organizations, and Tuition.  Having categories that are meaningful helps encourage long-term use.   It is encouraging to watch the value of a savings category, such as “Car”, increase in value over time.   Eventually that "car" category growing will encourage them to hang in there and get one.     

#2 Security for their personal financial information

Call me paranoid, but some high school students are just not ready to enter their bank account numbers, and other personal account information. Younger adults might need to look for software that will not require entering bank account numbers.  As a college student, why is this applicable?  The consequences of not taking safety precautions with this data still applies. but typically this age group is more aware of online safety, passwords, and firewalls.  I readily admit this leaves many good money management systems for post-high school graduation use only, and that you may have a high school teen that understands responsibility behind personal financial information.  Either way, read disclaimers and assurances.  Look for passcode protected entry.  Don't "save" that password.  Teach them to re-enter it each time they log in.  

#3 Assignable spending limits per spending category

Consider avoiding open-ended spending categories.  Look for the ability to assign a maximum amount to spend per category.  

#4 KISS – “Keep it simple stupid”

Pardon the cliché, but if it is difficult and time consuming, the less likely it is to get used.  This probably holds true for everyone except extremely detailed people.  Most teens that live at home won’t have nearly as many complicated categories as an adult.  Start with simple categories and expand the detail and sub-levels for later.  

#5 Watch out for software advertisements

Most free software will have advertisements and upsells for software upgrades, and outside products.  Watch out for that investment company that’s asking you or your child to move your savings to them.   If you followed step 1, there is no need to add a new category.   The old adage is true, "ain't nothin' free".

#6  Set savings goals with a $ amount and target date

What are you/they saving for?  A car, college, extra special tennis shoes?  Having a target date helps to see you are really going to achieve that item if they save consistently for a specific amount of time.  Call it merely delayed … not denied gratification.  

So, go ahead --- start creating those spending categories while looking for software that’s a perfect fit for you and/or your child.     

Here’s a few spending categories to consider:  

 High School:

  • Sporting Events
  • Concerts/Entertainment
  • Homecoming, Prom
  • Gifts
  • Eating Out
  • Gas/Transportation


  • Internet, wi-fi
  • Dorm furniture (refrig, etc.)
  • Study Abroad
  • Lab/Library
  • Road Trips/Spring Break
  • Organizations, sports passes  
  • Transportation to and from home   

      Yes! You CAN Have Success In The Middle of It ALL


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PS 2: Free Parent Guide
We've put together a free "8-Step Parent Planning Guide" that is stuffed full of information you might want to teach your "nearly-flown" child.  It's a parent time-saver, and gives you concrete lessons to use at your discretion.  Developed by parents previously in your shoes, we know you will find it super helpful.  
Here's the link for it: 8-Step Parent Planning Guide
Who Is JellyGeneration?

Pam Hardison, MBA, BBA in Finance and Business Education, has created and co-owned a national mail order catalog which at one point was the 21st fastest growing customerbase in the nation.  As a mom of two college-post college daughters, considers it a privilege and to meet other students and parents along the same road.   After teaching high school and college students for years, her commitment to helping them with topics most schools can't cover is the light that drives her.  

Holly Powers, Attorney-At-Law (Jameson & Powers, P.C.) has been actively practicing law since 1985 and is a shareholder with the law firm of Jameson & Powers, P.C.  The firm specializes in transactional law, health care law, and general business law.  Holly has taught students precepts concerning the legal world for over 10 years.  With 4 children, she understands what teens need to know and has a passion to help others faced with teens and aging parents.  

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