In the blink of an eye, your high schooler is driving and applying to colleges. He’s probably also going out with friends almost every weekend, buying fuel for the car and saving up for something big, like a new laptop.
Although you have done your best to raise a financially savvy teenager, you may still want to keep tabs on his spending.
Whether your child is still living with you and under your watchful eye or off at college, monitoring your kids’ spending can be almost as uncomfortable as discussing money with them.
According to www.policygenius.com, it gets particularly touchy when your kid is off at college and wants to handle money matters on their own – even if it’s your money they’re handling.
No matter the situation, your teen will likely make some poor spending choices sooner or later, and it will benefit you both to catch these money missteps early.
To this end, it’s important to have an honest talk with your child and explain that you’ll be checking on his spending.
It’s also important to set a budget and ground rules about spending with your teen, especially if you are giving him an allowance.
If he is earning his own money, you can also discuss the importance of budgeting so that he doesn’t have to ask you for extra spending money when the weekend rolls around.
Although, he may feel like you are spying on him a little bit, it will be worse if you didn’t talk about it beforehand. When you’re ready to start keeping tabs on your teen’s finances, here are two good ways to begin, according to www.policygenius.com.
Link their bank account to yours
This way, you can both view the account via an online banking portal. For some parents, when their boys were nine and 12, they opened some kids’ savings account for them at a local bank. When they reach 13 and 16, those parents need to open current accounts for them.
This should be linked to parent’s bank account to enable them monitor their expenses regularly.
When your child gets to age 20 and now in college, he still uses that current account. When he does any holiday work, his paycheque can be directly deposited into such account. He may choose to use his linked debit card for daily expenses. Occasionally, you may call your child if you notice ATM charges that he could have been easily avoided or an excess of charges to places you don’t expect him to go. It’s not that you don’t trust him; it’s just that you want him to stay on track and not spend frivolously.
Your teens will appreciate that you are looking out for them. They may call you to tell you about purchases that they know you will notice. For example, they may tell you they went to Samsung Office to buy something big. It could be that he purchased a new external hard drive and shopped around to find the best deal.
Get your teen a payment card and keep tabs on his credit history
Getting your teen a credit card or debit card is a great way to teach him about budgeting and spending. Just make sure you can keep close tabs on his account so he doesn’t overspend. You can either add him as an authorised user on your account or co-sign for his own card. If you want your teenager to start building his own credit, make sure your bank reports authorised users to the credit bureaus as some do not (call your bank to ask about this).
If you co-sign for your teen, you may want to start him off with a secured card which will limit the amount he can spend. If he is an authorised user, his charges will show up on your statement and if you co-sign, you can request a duplicate statement. Both ways give you an easy way to monitor his credit card or debit card spending.
Note, however, that you’re ultimately responsible for any co-signed debt if your child goes on a spending spree.
Yet, even if you’re keeping an eye on his credit card or debit card activity, don’t be surprised if you see a late payment or notice that he only made a minimum payment instead of paying the entire bill. This doesn’t mean your teen is going down a dangerous path, but it does mean he may need a little guidance. You can step in and talk to him about how important it is to pay on time and in full. This paves the way to discuss how instances like this can negatively affect your credit history.
With this said, it’s important to regularly check your teen’s credit report. You can do this through any of the three major credit bureaus in Nigeria. The Central Bank of Nigeria has registered three major credit bureaus in the country.
What happens when spending gets out of hand?
Between monitoring your teen’s bank accounts, credit card/debit card activity, and credit reports, you should have a good idea of his spending habits. If you’ve implemented some of the tips for raising money-savvy kids and feel comfortable discussing money with your kids, your kids should have no problem keeping their spending in check.
If your kid spends too much, however, a short talk or quick text may not be enough. You may need to institute repercussions for poor spending habits.
As an extreme example, may be a 19-year-old son, who decides to move out of his mother’s house and blow all the funds in his bank account to rent an apartment. This includes money earmarked for college expenses. The mother may choose to check the account and find out that it is now empty. She has no idea where the money is. His mother has to abruptly put an end to monetary contributions to his bank account until he learns how to budget and save.
While the above example is the worst case scenario, discovering that your child went on a shopping spree at the mall is very common scenario, even with kids who are normally smart about their money. If this happens repeatedly, it may be time to close his current account or take away the credit card or debit card– at least until you feel he’s ready to start spending wisely again.
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