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Helping my teen manage their finances


July 20, 2022 School, Employment and Volunteering


Par Simon Rioux

Financial education trainer

For many people, money can be a source of anxiety, stress, and sometimes confusion. However, some basic education on the subject early in life can help minimize these feelings later. Often, our first impressions of money come from the arrival of a piggy bank in our room as a child.

Then comes the opening of a bank account and in some cases, a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for the child.

Then, towards the end of high school, teens are taught some basic concepts in an economics course at school. But what follows is often more complicated for the parent. Parents can understandably feel helpless when faced with their child's questions about money matters. Here are 3 tips to help your child learn about financial management. 

1. Stay present while letting them experiment

Adolescence brings with it the desire for young people to make certain purchases on their own. It is important to let them have these experiences, despite the reluctance you may feel. We suggest that you accompany your teenager in making their purchases in these situations. In this way, you can act as a guide and intervene if you feel that your child is at risk of making serious mistakes. If your child insists on shopping alone, you can introduce the concepts of marketing, and of wants vs. needs. It is advisable not to preach, but to encourage your child to be careful.

2. The importance of budgeting and saving

Budgeting can seem like a boring and unnecessary task. But sitting down with your teenager to explain the basics of this tool is essential and can pay off for both of you. It helps them see where their money is going and how much work it will take before they can stand on their own two feet financially. Help them see the short-term effects of using and updating their budget, rather than the long-term effects: building up savings, being able to provide for themselves, etc.

We also suggest encouraging your child to find a project or goal that includes needing to save money. They will be able to keep track of their progress by consulting bank account information and by setting a realistic schedule. The goal is to make them responsible for their project and therefore for their budget. Educating your child about saving and its benefits is recommended even before they receive their first paycheck. For example, you can encourage them to put aside a portion of their allowances (if they receive any) or their birthday money.

3. Credit and its alternative

One day, your teenager will want to get a credit card. In Quebec, it is possible to obtain a credit card at age 16 with a co-signing parent. How do you familiarize them with paying with credit? Prepaid credit cards can be an excellent alternative. From the age of 13, your teen will learn how to use a credit card while only having access to the amount you put on the card. This option allows the parent to monitor their child's purchasing behavior while avoiding the pitfalls of debt and overspending. This could then start the discussion around getting the child's first credit card. 

Educating your child about saving and its benefits is recommended even before they receive their first paycheck.

Some useful resources

Many financial institutions have also committed themselves to providing information on money matters. Their web sites often include FAQs full of useful information for the general public. In some cases, there are also games and simulation tools. Télé-Québec also broadcasts “L'indice McSween,” hosted by Pierre-Yves McSween, who is a chartered accountant and financial columnist. He discusses a number of financial topics in plain language. Excerpts from the programs can be found on their website, free of charge. Closer to home, in Laval, the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi de Laval (CJE) and the ACEF (Association communautaire d'économie familiale) offer free awareness and orientation workshops on personal finance.  Their various topics include:

  • Making a budget
  • Understanding credit
  • Saving for your education and/or your first apartment
  • Insurance
  • Investments

For more information, please visit the ACEF Laval website or the CJE Laval website.