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Help your teenager reach money milestones

Most people get their money habits and skills from their parents and caregivers. Here is some background in how children develop financially.

Skills and abilities to develop now for financial well-being later

Understanding how to manage money can take a lifetime of practice. Learning how to plan ahead, wait for things they want, and finish what they start are important skills to have on the road to financial well-being. CFPB has created a survey you can give to your child to see where they are on their money journey today and learn about steps they can take for their future.

Download the "Map your money journey guide"

At this age, your child can develop these skills:

  • Ability to manage money or other resources to reach a goal
  • Understanding money concepts like long-term savings, taxes, invoices, or bank statements
  • Identifying reliable information sources and how to sort through information to get answers

Your child is also working on:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Focusing on the future instead of just right now 
  • Planning ahead and waiting for what she wants 
  • Keeping a positive attitude about saving, being frugal, planning, and self-control
  • Building good money habits and good ways to make choices 
  • Spending and saving based on her own goals and values

Behaviors to look for

Your child’s behavior might be on track when they:

  • Take steps to reach a goal, whether or not they actually achieve it
  • Resist things that seem too good to be true
  • Ask questions to understand money 

Your child might need your help when they:

  • Give up when a money topic or goal seems too hard
  • Make a choice based on unreliable information
  • Regret choices that don’t align with their original intentions

Tips that can help

Keep in mind that you’re teaching about money, on purpose or not

Your children are constantly watching and listening, so they might absorb more than you think. When you shop for a bargain, or splurge on a treat, or plan a special occasion, you’re showing your kids how you think about money.

Don’t worry too much about things you don’t know

Don’t feel confident about money matters? You’re in good company. Most people don’t. And that’s okay. Every day, you excel at something your children need to learn—whether it’s managing your time between work and home, saving money when you shop, or planning for a future event.

Try this: Think out loud

From your actions, your children often draw their own conclusions—and sometimes they might not be what you intended! When you think out loud, you clarify what you’re doing and why. Try getting into the habit of thinking out loud during your day-to-day money and time management, so your kids can follow along.