Recently, my son and his friends attended their high school’s formal. As the boys gathered at our home for pictures and pizza before their night out, I pulled my son aside and handed him a $20 note.
He looked at me quizzically and I said, “Just in case you need a little extra cash.” He rolled his eyes and promptly told me that no one uses cash anymore. “Mum, that’s what Apple Pay is for, right?” he joked.
When he arrived home later that night, I asked him how his evening had gone. He and his friends went to a local diner after the dance and he said he had a great time, mostly.
“We were having a blast until the waitress got mad at us,” he said.
After some discussion, it became clear that my son and his friends realised that the diner wasn’t, in fact, equipped for Apple Pay. They had all scrambled to pay their individual bills with credit cards or cash and the waitress was exasperated with the group of 10 boys.
Of course, I can imagine how annoying that table must have been, what with the fart jokes, loud laughter and panic over how they’d pay their bills, but it also made me realise that there a few things about money that all teens should know. Especially as they spend more time in diners late at night without us.
1. Basic accounting
These days, teens have it so much easier than we did when it comes to learning accounting skills. And, yes, it’s true that they will never know the hell that comes with trying to balance a cheque book by hand, but the fact remains that teens do need to have a firm grasp on basic money skills.
Teaching them the basics about saving money, budgeting and earning money to finance their social lives will go a long way to making them more independent later in life.
2. How to write a cheque
When my son first learned how to write a cheque, he was astonished to learn that the money magically disappeared from his account and that he’d have to adjust his spending habits to account for the money spent.
And, while you’re at it, taking the time to explain why cheque fraud is illegal isn’t a bad idea, either.
3. How to use an ATM
I know it sounds silly but teens are so used to money apps and in-app purchasing services that you can’t assume they’ll know how to take money out of the bank in an emergency.
Making sure your kid has committed her banking PIN to memory, and knows where to find the nearest branch of her bank to her high school or university, could be a lifesaver in a pinch.
Take the time to review withdrawal slips in case your child is ever in a situation where he needs to do banking face to face. And sure, most bank tellers are super helpful, but customer who has a basic working knowledge of banking is always appreciated.
Explain how the ATM works and remind him that most banks have a limit on how much cash can be withdrawn. Though it may seem ridiculous to have to review such common information, you’ll be glad you did when your kid is having a financial crisis two hundred kilometres away from home.
4. How to pay people back
We all remember those nights at uni when pizza was ordered at midnight or a round of drinks mysteriously appeared on the table. One of my biggest pet peeves back then was when friends devoured the pizza we’d ordered as a group but seemingly “forgot” to reimburse me for the money I’d given the delivery guy.
Have a basic discussion with your teen about money etiquette: Teach them to be respectful of their friends and roommates when it comes to money. Remind them that petrol isn’t cheap, pizza doesn’t grow on trees and it sucks to be the kid who is saddled with the bill at the end of the night.