Fair   49.0F  |  Forecast »

Teens on a Budget

Help your adolescent adjust to tough economic times

This holiday season, many moms and dads will have to say "no" to their tweens and teens' holiday hopes for designer clothes and shiny new gadgets. In a region especially hard-hit by job loss and salary cuts, slashed budgets leave many with little choice.

Breaking the news won't exactly stir up holiday cheer. But there are ways you can help your adolescent adjust – and, even if your family hasn't been affected, ways you can help them prepare in case it is.

Preventative steps

Greg Oliver's 15-year-old son is usually on his own when it comes to buying the latest video game or going to a weekend movie. Sometimes he's able to afford what he wants; others, he has to wait, or even cancel plans. It can be a big bummer.

And Oliver, who's also a psychologist with Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, thinks that's a good thing. Not because he's a mean dad. But because he believes it teaches his son valuable life lessons.

"That kind of practice and experience of being disappointed is important for kids to go through," Oliver says. "That way, when they face something that is more serious like a family economic change, the disappointment is not completely foreign or brand new to them."

The idea is for kids to experience delayed gratification in order to teach them how to deal with having their material needs postponed. Or even eliminated.

Open communication

However, Oliver understands that for many families, this exercise might be too late. For kids who are largely used to getting what they want, the shift can be jarring. Even if that's not the case, kids can develop anxieties or worries if they feel they're losing their sense of security.

The remedy, says Oliver, is for families to set up a formal meeting and talk about what is going on.

Certified financial planner Karen Norman of Norman Financial Planning in Troy also thinks it's a good idea for parents to have open dialogue with their kids about family finances, especially when tough times arise. She suggests conversations on a regular basis – whether it's once a month or quarter – and families should discuss everything from how the mortgage and other bills are paid to how to afford extras, like school activities.

"This isn't to make kids more worried about things than they need to be," Norman says. "It's more of an instructional thing to say, 'This is how mom and dad have to plan our lives, and when you grow up, you'll have to do the same thing.'"

Long-haul lessons

Norman adds that discussions about scaling back present parents with a great opportunity to get kids on the right track to becoming better consumers – as well as teach them about the importance of saving.

"If parents look at it as an opportunity to teach kids some financial responsibility, then it's going to help their kids learn a lesson that they'll need 10, 15 or 20 years down the road," Oliver says.

Another positive part of the situation, he notes, is that family members discover how to rely on each other – and teens learn to respect and appreciate those relationships.

"The actual experience of a tough time is how kids can learn about materialism and what really counts," Oliver says. "Some tough economic times are important for kids to experience disappointment and struggle, so they learn the value of a dollar and they learn the value of people."

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Craft Roundup for Earth Day Fun

Craft Roundup for Earth Day Fun

Repurpose stuff around the house with these family DIY projects, including a jewelry pom-pom box, cereal box gift bags – even a cool makeover for old balloons.

Living Room Spring Cleaning Checklist

Living Room Spring Cleaning Checklist

It's a formal spot in the house – mainly used for entertaining – that gets less foot traffic on a daily basis. This also means it's easier to clean! Get the scoop here.

Bathroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Bathroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Haven't kept up on scrubbing your tub or shower? Now is the time to clean up this much-used space – with these helpful tips.

Basement Spring Cleaning Checklist

Basement Spring Cleaning Checklist

Whether it's leftover holiday decor or old toys, this spot in your home becomes the catchall for your family's stuff. Organize it this season with these tips.

Garage Spring Cleaning Checklist

Garage Spring Cleaning Checklist

You just don't park your car there! This space does serious double duty as family storage space. Get everyone involved in cleaning it up with these tips.

Office Spring Cleaning Checklist

Office Spring Cleaning Checklist

It’s filled with papers, old files and tons of stuff to toss. Get started with these tips for organizing your home office.

Bedroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Bedroom Spring Cleaning Checklist

Ah, sleep. Busy families definitely need a good night's rest after a long day, so why not spruce up your sleep space? We've got tips for you to use!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement