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Purchasing Power Helping Your Teen Develop Healthy Spending Habits

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

We may live in the “Land of the Free”…but as we all know “nothing” in life is actually “free” and that includes the hard work, dedication and devotion it takes to raise successful adults.

Once of the major “identifiers” in adolescent life is self-image…and self-image during pre-teen and teen years is often associated with how we look, how we dress and what we own.

Many youngsters “experiment” with a variety of options they feel is reflective of who they are, and who they ultimately want to be. Hence all the time in front of a mirror, at the mall(s) and scouring through catalogs. The more they have, the more ways in which they are trying to say something about themselves…something they want YOU and the world to see and hear.

Let’s fact it, even we as adults and parents do it. We may not be “as” label conscious….but from the clothes we wear, to the homes we own and cars we drive, we are trying to express our individuality and our unique, intrinsic personas. The only difference is, through the years, we’ve built more of a comfort level with ourselves than our kids, know “exactly” what we want (so change is less prevalent and frequent) and we’ve gotten better at monitoring and curbing our expenditures (at least most of us have for the most part).

Basically, what we spend our money on is an outward expression of an inner conviction (of who and what we are). Our children and young adults are no different. They simply need good advice and guidance…and our loving support in helping to point them in the right direction ensuring they maintain a healthy balance between spending and saving and give them a powerful sense of their “purchasing power”.

Budget Talks: If it’s good enough for Congress, lets assume it’s also good enough for you and your teen. Work with your “child” to establish a reasonably acceptable amount allotted to expenditures such as clothes and other personal items on either a weekly or monthly basis. Then, stand by those numbers.

Divide and Conquer: Divide the year into its seasonal components and discuss the “essential” purchases for each. Encourage your teen to gather items he/she no longer needs (or wants) and donate to those in “need”.

Familiar Ground: Reach acceptable decisions as a family. Discuss spending issues at the dinner table and allow for your teen to feel not only involved but also understood and respected. Give his/her ideas considerable consideration and then again discuss your thoughts as a family before coming to a unanimous accepted conclusion. L

Time Passages: Ask your teen to play the waiting game (concerning new purchases) for at least a week. This allows your teen to re-evaluate the items “value”. If the unbudgeted item is still seen as “essential” at the end of this time frame, discuss ways to make it affordable.

Family Buy-Outs: Do NOT attempt to buy your child’s affection if they are “upset” about their inability to make certain purchases. The occasional “surprise” is a genuinely sweet sentiment…but as a regular practice undermines lessons about healthy spending behaviors. Besides, more than he/she needs material items, they need your love, guidance, time and attention.

“Ad”-Hock Committee: Young children and teens are the prime target market for advertisers. No matter how “indifferent” they appear, they “are” affected by social standards, for better and for “worse”. Talk to your teen(s) about the images portrayed, what it means and how you accomplish the “image” in a more cost “effective” manner.

Media-Free Zones: Declare certain nights “media free” by “prohibiting” TV, CDs, DVDs, or computer usage. Instead engage the family in a variety of board games, or arrange for a family get away where you all can relax and enjoy each other’s company and conversation sans pressure to hit the mall.

Teach The Value Of Time Well Spent: Shopping can be a valuable bonding opportunity for parents: mothers and daughters/fathers and sons. Remember, it’s less about the “shopping” and more about spending quality time together. It’ also the perfect way to teach your son or daughter about the value of money, sampling, comparison-shopping and building memories.

“Free” Gifts: Give your teen a lesson in the true value of life and educated them on gifts money “can’t “ buy. Give them gifts of time and encourage them to do the same for you. Instead of “material” purchases, offer them an afternoon doing their favorite activity or visiting their favorite place or restaurant, or arranging for a special trip or get together with some of their closest cousins or friends.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Purchasing Power Helping Your Teen Develop Healthy Spending Habits

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