The Anti-Budget Method for Guilt-Free Spending & Easy Tracking for Teens

I’m anti-budget.

Rather, I’m anti-classic-budget.

You know the kind: giant multi-tabbed spreadsheet, allotted dollar amounts for every category under the sun, color-coded complex charts, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these can be entertaining, useful, sometimes even beautiful.  (Psst, I created a simple budget worksheet for your teen. It’s available for download at the end of this post – read on!)

Ouch, my eyes hurt!
That is one mean budget.

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Why Your Teen Does the Exact Opposite of What You Say

My friend and I were at an event.  She turned to me and said, “Don’t turn around.”  What’s the first thing I did?  I turned around immediately. I didn’t even know what I was looking for or why.  It was just an automatic reflex!  Little did I know she wanted to tell me something about someone behind me but didn’t want to make it obvious.  Oops.

Similarly, in my article about building credit you read about how my parents told me not to get a credit card when I was in high school.  Like any normal teenager, I did the exact opposite.

It’s not just me.  And it’s not just teens. I’ve seen a ton of people do the exact opposite of what they’re told to do – and I’m sure you have too. What makes us react this way? More importantly, what can we do about it?  In today’s article, I’m showing you the research behind this psychological phenomenon called reactance.

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Your Teen’s List of Potential Colleges WILL Impact Your Bottom Line – Here’s What You Can Do About It

The college admissions season is in full swing, many college applications are already available and most applications are due in late-fall and winter.  All summer, students and families have been visiting college campuses to shop around for the right college.

Students and parents consider things like campus location, student population, campus life, programs of study, etc.  Parents might be more interested in visiting the financial aid office to learn about financing options.  During this time, it’s easy to get caught up in the details of financial planning like:

  • projecting the costs for the next four years
  • increasing your monthly savings goals
  • cashing in on investments
  • finding ways to cut household expenses
  • applying to scholarships
  • submitting the FAFSA as early as possible

But there’s something that can affect your bottom line more than any of these strategies: which college your teen ultimately chooses to attend.   Continue reading

Your Teen Doesn’t Want to Hear About Your “Rules”

No one likes rules – especially teens.

I teach teens about personal finance in a way that they will actually respond positively to it. Here’s an example of how I do that.

OK, we all know that the number one rule about personal finance is this: Don’t spend more than you earn. We’ve all heard this before, we’ve all read this somewhere. It’s the most basic, fundamental concept in personal finance.

How do you think your teen might respond to this rule? It literally just sounds like another thing they’re not allowed to do. When it’s framed this way it just comes off as another forbidden fruit added to the long list of don’ts. Continue reading

Give Teens Some Credit (Literally)

This is the story of how I achieved a 700+ credit score by the time I graduated from college – and it all started when I was about 15 years old.

First, let me give you some context: about the only personal finance advice I ever got from my parents as a kid was to (1) save aggressively and (2) never get a credit card.  Sound familiar?

In other words, I didn’t learn this stuff at home.  In high school I was lucky to be in a very small group of students in a 10th grade class about personal finance, where the teacher advised that we get a credit card as soon as possible.

I was a teenager, so naturally, I was instantly interested in learning more because it was the exact opposite of what my parents had taught me.   Continue reading