Teaching Kids & Teens About Money

Talking about money with kids and teens can be hard, but The Balance is here to make it easier. With these comprehensive lessons and tools, you can break down the jargon and start to bridge financial literacy gaps from an early age. 

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Key Terms

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Frequently Asked Questions
  • How can you start a budget as a beginner?

    An individual’s budget will vary depending on their lifestyle, spending habits, and net income. To start a budget, you need to take a deep dive into how you spend your money, which includes gathering all of your bills and pay stubs. When you have all of your bills and pay stubs, write down all monthly expenses. Then, write down your monthly income. Subtract the expenses from how much money you make. If the number is less than zero, you are spending more money than you make and it is time to reevaluate your spending and saving habits. A beginner can use a budgeting spreadsheet, calculator, or various applications to assist in the process.

  • When should I start giving my kids an allowance?

    Data shows that about half of parents (56%) choose to give their child an allowance, and many children start receiving it by age 8, sometimes younger. There's no set age—or amount—for every child. Allowances are often rewards for completing chores such as doing the laundry, cleaning their room, or feeding family pets. The decision to give your child an allowance comes down to your family priorities and budget. The sooner you start giving an allowance, however, the sooner you can use the opportunity to teach them the value of money, savings, and budgeting.

  • How do I apply for a credit card?

    You can complete a credit card application in several ways: online, on a paper application, or on the phone. Applying for a credit card online is convenient and you can get a decision almost immediately. Be prepared with personal details like your date of birth and Social Security number; details on income and housing costs; and information on any authorized users you want to add to the account.

  • At what age should you give your child a debit card?

    Research shows that kids typically develop their attitudes and habits toward money by age 7, and by then, basic financial concepts like  budgeting and saving will be in place. Some experts recommend giving your kids cash to start, and then moving them to a debit card with access to limited amounts of money at age 12 to help prepare them for the future, especially one that leans on digital transactions like on apps such as Venmo.

  • How long can you stay on your parents’ car insurance?

    In most cases, you can maintain coverage through your parents auto insurance policy indefinitely. However, some insurance companies and state insurance laws require you to get your own policy at a certain point. In Pennsylvania, for example, if you’re driving a car that is owned by your parents and their home is your primary residence, you can remain on the policy. Once you move out on your own, though, this may not fly with your insurance company. Before getting your own insurance policy, speak with your insurance provider about the specific terms and regulations.

  • What is a good age for a teen to get a credit card?

    By law, an individual can’t open their own credit card account until they are 18. However, you must be at least 21 years old to get a credit card in your own name without a co-signer. If you're under the age of 21, you must be able to demonstrate the ability to independently make the payments to get your own credit card. That being said, a teenager could get a credit card under the age of 18 if an adult names them the authorized user on their credit card. This means the teen will have a credit card with their own name on it, but the primary account holder is responsible for making payments. By giving your child access to a credit card early, they can build their credit history, learn how to use credit cards safely, and gain rewards. However, having a credit card is also a big responsibility, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons prior to authorizing your teen to use their first card.

  • How do student loans work?

    A loan is money you borrow that must be paid back with interest. To receive student loans specifically, you must first apply for financial aid using the FAFSA. Depending on your personal and familial circumstances, you may be offered loans as part of your school’s financial aid offer. There are various types of student loans available, all of which have their own terms and conditions. These loans can come from many institutions, including the federal government in the case of federal student loans, as well as private sources such as a bank, financial institution, or nonprofit. Generally, federal student loans usually have more benefits than private student loans.

  • How do you save money as a teenager?

    The most effective way to save money as a teenager is to start small. With each allowance, summer job, or side hustle, it’s important for teens to pocket away a portion of the total and put it in savings. Most banks and credit unions require minors to open a savings account with a parent or guardian present, so in this case, the name of the guardian and the teen should both be on the account. If teens are hesitant about the idea of working, encourage them to consider a job in an area they are passionate about. For example, if your teen excels in English and enjoys the subject, perhaps they could consider tutoring younger children after school.

  • When should you start teaching kids about money?

    The best time to start teaching kids about money is when you think they have the capacity to understand simple financial concepts. You know your child or student best. Even children age 5 or younger can learn how saving works or engage in a conversation about common money terms, like credit cards or online banking. Games and online videos can be helpful learning tools for kids, too.