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Parent of a teenager? See the simple money tricks that could make a real difference

Talking to your teenager about money can be tricky, but the conversations you have with your kids now may stop them making the adult money mistakes that could haunt them for years to come.

Here are our tips for teaching your teenagers how to be financially responsible – and how it can make a difference.

So what’s the most important thing you could do to help yours out?

The answer, according to  research conducted on our behalf by Ipsos MORI among 15-17 year olds, is to give them responsibility for their finances.  If you don’t want to be seen merely as the endlessly generous bank of mum and dad when it comes to money, your kids need to be able to save and keep track of what money they have.

Only around a third of young people who do not have any responsibilities for paying with their own money save some money each month (38%), with a similarly low number keeping track of their income and spending (34%).

Around two thirds who do have responsibilities  save money (67%) and keep track of their money (63%). A significant difference from those with no responsibilities.

Give your teenager responsibility for their own bills

Does your teenager have a mobile phone? Do they want a holiday with their friends or to get driving lessons?

Don’t just give them the money and then expect them to understand that money doesn’t go on trees. Use it as an opportunity to sit down with them and talk about how much would need to be put aside each month, or help them search for a part time job to finance what they want.

The responsibility most associated with good money management was being in charge of paying for unknown things that might happen in the future. Eight in ten (82%) of 15-17 year olds who were expected to pay for unexpected events were saving every month, compared with the average of 65%.

Paying for driving lessons, education or training also proved to be a good money habit. Seventy-seven percent of those who were responsible for paying for driving lessons, education or training were keeping track of their money, compared with only 61% of 15-17 year olds.


What is the best way to give pocket money?

Do you give your children a set amount of pocket money on a regular basis, or do you give them money as and when you think they need it?  Being consistent with pocket money is a great, simple way to help your kids learn about budgeting.

Of those who receive money on an ad-hoc basis, only 52% of 15-17 year olds keep track of their income and spending. In contrast, 64% of those who receive a regular, fixed sum are aware of their income and spending.

Giving your teenager a regular, fixed amount will give them a taste of putting together a budget – and sticking to it.

Who do your kids think gives the best money advice?

Is it their teachers, or people they see on TV? Actually, 84% say that their parents are either the only or the best source they would seek for advice.

To help steer them towards the right financial behaviours for the future, you could including your children in some of your financial decisions, particularly as they reach their late teens. You could show them how you shopped around for a better deal on your current account, or even talk to them about some of the mistakes you’ve made in the past.

What do you do if you can’t afford to buy something? Our research asked 15-17 year olds this about their parents. Of those whose parents bought the item anyway, only just over half (53%) of 15-17 year olds save money every month. This is compared with two in three (66%) of 15-17 year olds whose parents do not buy the item.

How do you talk to your teenagers about money? Tell us in the comments below.


For the Money Advice Service’s Young Persons’ Financial Capability Survey Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,154 young people between the ages of 15-17. Respondents were interviewed online in England and Scotland and online and face to face in Wales and Northern Ireland between 10th June – 8th July 2014. The data has been  weighted to reflect the known population profile by age, gender and region.

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  • Andrea / 4 June 2015

    My 12 and 15 year old get spending money every week, payed by standing order into their bank accounts. For this they do some household Jobs - washing up, putting the bins out, gardening etc. My 15 year old likes to spend her money on tickets to concerts and 12 year old doesn't spend much at all. If they want expensive items we come to an agreement that I will put some money to e.g. My son want an new Xbox for his birthday. They buy their own presents for friends etc.

  • Tafsir Diop / 3 April 2015

    Thanks you very much!

  • Catherine Davies / 30 March 2015

    Why wait until they are teenagers? My daughter has started earning pocket money for doing simple chores, such as laying the table since her sixth birthday. We've always bought what she needs (and a few treats of course) but she saves up birthday, Christmas and pocket money for things she would like.


    KIRSTY BOWMAN-VAUGHAN: Catherine – yes we agree, did you know that many of our future attitudes to and habits around money are set by the age of seven! Starting young is the way to go!

  • Paula Chatfield / 28 March 2015

    Daughter blew early pocket money (age 10) on tat and was shocked when she found herself throwing things away. Age 13 she is revelling in the independence a paper round gives her, earning £17 a week and utterly delighted by tips at Christmas. Her pocket money is paid into a bank account by standing order now monthly (£3/week equivalent) with a further £2/week into a savings account. This seems a lot now she is earning, but we didn't want to penalise her for working. She's struggled to understand that the money in her current account is held by the bank and not 'on her card'. Her 11-year-old brother gets the same pocket money deal but scarcely spends a penny, so it's just building up in savings until he decides there's something he really wants. Now he's 11, he's going to get the same current account with card that she has, but is unlikely to use it. We think it important it's his responsibility though.

  • Jenna / 20 March 2015

    My son (13) earns his pocket money by doing chores and is paid monthly directly into his bank account. He also gets paid from the church for being in the choir and this he saves in a separate account. If he wants anything outside of Christmas / birthday he saves until he has enough. It has made him think carefully about what he spends his money on!

  • Lynne Goodwin / 18 March 2015

    My teenager works for his money doing a paper round

  • Anne / 14 March 2015

    I've been giving my son £2 pocket money a week for a good few years. The idea was so he could spend £1 & save £1. But mostly he just saves for things he wants. We went halves on the DS that he wanted as it was very expensive & since then he understands if he wants something in particular he needs to save for it. Hopefully this is a lesson he will keep for life.