I personally believe that a teenage will never fully appreciate responsibility with money until it is their own that they earned. Even then, many adults do not full appreciate being responsible with their money. In 2014 American teens spent $258.7 billion! The average American teen spends almost $5,000 per year. Source Nonetheless, as parents it is possible for us to teach our children how to be responsible with money on a small scale. This way, when they become adults they will not be foolish on a large scale.
Sin is very prevalent in the area of money. Some people believe that money is the root of all evil, but this is not accurate. The Scriptures state that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil in 1 Timothy 6:10. When the end goal of life becomes to gain as much as possible and hoard it, that is greed. Christians are called to be generous. You can be generous and rich, but God is more interested about the generous heart than the resources to be generous with. In Luke 12:28 Jesus said, "To whom much is given, much is expected." I believe that in view of the command of Scripture that part of financial responsibility is being generous.
So what are some practical steps to teach our children to be responsible and generous with money?
1. Got to have it to be generous with it. Some people are struggling right now. I understand your pain. I've been there, and it "aint no fun!" This is still a great way to teach your child to appreciate what they have. Give them something, even if its not money but a simple resource, but teach them that when its gone they can't get any more. We don't do our children any favors when we fill their pockets every time, they empty them out. This principle will teach them to be judicious in their decisions.
2. Give them their own bank account. Now you may choose to for your children to bank with Parents First United Bank, or you may choose to let them use an actual bank. Both are good options, but this will teach them how to balance an account and make investments.
3. Teach your teen to save. I learned a long time ago how to save, because I would by something silly, then when I wanted to buy what I wanted I was broke. I chose then to forgo the meaningless purchase for the one I actually wanted.
4. Let your teen get a job. Now I am not advocating that your child must have a job in a formal sense. I am advocating that there needs to be some means of them to earn their money. Some parents pay their children according to their chores. When a teen earns their income, and has no way to simply ask for more they learn financial independence.
5. Monitor your teens spending. Don't let your teen go buy a new set of duck decoys when they have a cell phone bill due. I know it's not cool to tell your child how to spend their money, but their future loan agents will appreciate you. Teens need to learn to prioritize their spending. Hey I want decoys too! But I have to pay my bills and fulfill my contracts first.
6. Don't always bail them out. Your teens are going to make mistakes. They may burn their money on a new set of clothes from the mall, but neglect to fill up their car with gas. When they run out of gas, it would be really funny to let them ride the bus to school for a week. Let them learn from little mistakes, so they learn the principles of making good financial decisions.
7. Teach your teen to be generous. This only works if you are generous. I personally believe that as Christians our generosity is worship, and this includes our tithes and offerings. If you don't tithe, why would your kids tithe? Second, if you give them an allowance, make them tithe out of it. If they earn their own money, make them tithe. Also, help them to find other opportunities for giving. If they have a friend who is raising money for a mission trip, suggest for your teen to help support their friend.
One day your teen will be an adult...scary! They will drive on the road, and possibly some sidewalks along the way. They will make mistakes as teens and adults, and that's normal. However, we want what's best for our children, and ultimately that is God's best for them. If you teach them now how to follow God's methods, then they at least know what to do when they are adults. They may still decide to depart from God's precepts, but at least we taught them what God expects of them. I want my children to become a people of God, with impeccable character. To help them realize that goal one day, I must start guiding them today.