What does it mean to prosper? According to Merriam Webster, the first definition says it is to succeed in an enterprise or activity, especially: to achieve economic success. The second definition is to become strong and flourishing.
These are wonderful and even noble aspirations. Prosperous teens now mean healthy, happy, financially sound adults later. And with the New Year upon us, now is a good time to discuss goal-setting for the future with your teen.
So how do we help them learn how to prosper?
First of all, teens should know that achieving wealth is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is something they must learn to do in order to eat, live, and function in daily life.
Second, God Himself informs us through His word that prospering is not only not a bad thing, but a requirement of good stewardship, and a sign of wisdom.
The passage in Matthew 25:14-30 about the master with three servants is a great illustration of how God views our responsibility to multiply the gifts and abilities He has given us.
In our parable, the master is leaving on a long journey. He entrusts his money to his three servants. To the first, he gives 5 pieces of silver. To the second, he gives 2 pieces of silver. To the third, he gives but one piece of silver.
When the master returns from his sojourn, he wants a report of what his servants have done with the money that was entrusted to them.
The first happily reported that he had invested, and was able to turn his 5 pieces of silver into 10.
The second had a similar report, in that he had invested his 2 pieces of silver, and now he had 4.
But, alas, the third servant reported that he had not invested his money. He had not even deposited it for interest. He had buried it in the ground.
The master was furious with the third servant. He called him “lazy” and “evil,” and his money was taken from him and given to the first servant to manage.
Perhaps one of the many things we are to infer from this passage is that God views investing, wealth-building, and thus prospering as a preferable course to pursue. And that failure to even try to improve our station in life is actually sinful.
Another angle to consider is that if we are prosperous, we are in a much better position to help others who need it. Teens can be very compassionate, and appealing to their desire to help others and be charitable will perhaps ignite their desire even more to become prosperous.
Finally what this parable tells me is that God entrusts us with certain responsibilities, and we are to do the most we can with what we have. Teens must learn how to manage their own affairs and finances, and they need to learn now while they are home under their parents’ guidance.
Instilling a mindset of prosperity in a child is something that should actually start early in their childhood. Open a bank account in the child’s name, with you as the custodian. Make regular deposits. Let them fill out the deposit forms when they have some money to put in, and let them “cut their teeth” on the bank statements.
They may not fully understand yet what it all means, but it gets them accustomed early in life to the idea of having some money that belongs to them. It is a good mindset for them to develop. And if you are just now starting with your teenager, don’t worry. It’s never too late for your child to learn the art of money management.
These are the 7 steps to take that will help your teen develop a mindset of prosperity.
Open a bank account in the child’s name as soon as you can.
In our family, we actually did this when our kids were about 5 or 6 years old. But if your kids are past that age, don’t despair. There is still time to take this first important step. Kids are capable of understanding way more than we give them credit for, and your kids will grow to love the idea of having their own bank account.
Every time your child has birthday money or earns money from doing a job, encourage her to put as much of it as possible into her bank account. If you are financially able to do it, I recommend matching her account contributions, especially if she is depositing earned money. Show her the statements, and she can see her balance grow, which is very exciting.
Yep! Good, old-fashioned work. Since money unfortunately doesn’t pop up out of the ground, they are going to have to find ways to generate it themselves. Teens can go out and earn money, even if they are not yet 16 and driving. They can pick up a lot of jobs around if they put their minds to it. Babysitting, pet-sitting or walking, yard-mowing, leaf-raking, weed-pulling, and vehicle washing are just a few of the many ways teens can generate income for themselves.
No allowance, only commission.
No person should be paid just to exist. Teens should learn that in order to receive payment, something of value must be delivered, be it a product or a service.
Some parents argue that their kids should do chores just because they “live under my roof.” Unfortunately, such an opinion may rob yourself of an opportunity to teach your teen about the value of performing a service and getting paid. Plus, it gives them much more incentive to do the job, and do it willingly, if they know payment is part of the deal. It is a natural, human desire to want to get paid for performing a job.
Trade this for that
Teach them to reason out how much they are willing to work or give up in order to obtain an item they want. For example, how many hours are you willing to work at babysitting in order to have a night out at the movies? Or to purchase that new pair of shoes. It helps them keep things in perspective when they look at purchases with this new filter.
If your teen is heading off to college, I would implore you to help him avoid student loan debt and credit card debt at all costs. Teens and young adults should never begin their journey in life with a financial millstone around their necks. Helping them save up and apply for scholarships and grants will be time well spent for all of you. Please refer to the article Why Teens Should Avoid Student Loan Debt Like the Plague.
Teach them to budget and invest
Learning how to budget is a huge key to your teen’s financial well-being. Teach them that a budget is not limiting, but rather it creates freedom because they are controlling their money instead of the other way around.
When you and your teen are more comfortable with his ability to handle and manage money (which will happen if you follow the above steps), you can open an investment account for him. If your teen is a minor, you will, again, have to put yourself as the custodian on the account until he comes of age.
Again, give him the statements to look at when they come in the mail. Better yet, set up access to the account online and let him log in whenever he wants to keep up with how the account is performing.
Allowing and encouraging your teen to develop an active interest in finances will give her the confidence to move forward in her life as an adult in a world all too familiar with the drudgery of poverty and debt.
Teaching teens to become prosperous and responsible is not only an option for us parents, but I believe it is an obligation we have to give our kids the leg up they need in their life journey.
And don’t forget. If they prosper, you will never have millennials living in your basement.