Help Your Teen Understand Safe Spending ~! - Sammy Makes Six

Help Your Teen Understand Safe Spending ~!

One of the hardest things about having teenagers is teaching them about budgeting and how to spend money wisely. At their age, my girls still seem to think that money grows on trees and that the ATM has an unlimited amount of cash. It is my job to dispel that theory and to teach them how to be financially responsible.

Because they haven't quite grasped the idea of spending carefully, my girls do not have an ATM or Debit card yet. Instead every month they each get a certain amount of money that we deposit into a prepaid card like the American Express prepaid card. This card has no fees and there is never any danger of overdraft fees because they can only spend what is on the card. Once they have their card loaded, we spend some time going over what their expenses are for the month. 
  • Cell phones
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Gym
  • Gifts for friends of families birthdays
  • Misc.- money they leave in card for eating out, movies...etc.
My girls are lucky they still don't have any bills of their own besides their cell phones, so most of their money still gets to go to shopping and fun. But it is very important that we sort it all out at the beginning of each month, then we pay any outstanding bills. Once that is done they can keep their card and spend as they go, but that is only with constant overseeing by me and plenty of double checking on their balances because they have been known to spend it all in one day or to spend it on things that were not in the budget. 

One of the areas that we all need to work on is saving money. Right now they don't do it because they are not working but once they do, they will have to learn to put a little bit of money away from each payday. One of my most important jobs as mom is to make sure that by the time my girls leave my care, they understand and practice safe spending so that they can get off to a secure financial future. 

In an effort to arm parents with tools and tips to educate their teens about responsible spending, American Express, along with financial expert Jean Chatzky and Stacy DeBroff from Mom Central, have launched the Safe Spend program. Designed to help parents teach their kids how to “Practice Safe Spend” before heading back to school, the program offers tips to make discussing the importance of money management a little easier:
  • Protect yourself from a budget blowout: There are college expenses you plan for – food on the meal plan, books – and then there’s everything else. Laundry, late night pizza and other extras add up fast. Decide how much your teen will have for these variables, tell them to track all spending, then check back in a month to see how it’s working out.
  • Understand that no means no: It happens to parents, too – paying for a killer outfit or electronic gadget with a credit or charge card, only to feel the delayed sticker shock at month’s end. Before your college student arrives on campus, talk about the types of spending temptations they may experience and should avoid while at school.
  • Keep your teens close, and their spending closer: A card linked to your account proves ideal for teens in emergency situations. Parents never know when their young adult might need immediate access to additional funds to get themselves out of a jam. For example, their car might break down and they need to pay for a tow. You can give your teen a charge card like the American Express Additional Card with Custom Limits, that allows you to quickly and easily raise their spending limit – granting them access to additional funds – simply by going online.
To read all of the “Practice Safe Spend” tips, please visit

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of American Express and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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