4 Money Lessons Your Teen Needs to Win at Life

Did your parents give you money lessons when you were a kid?

money lessons lemonade stand
Unfortunately, many kids are not learning real world money lessons at home, and worse, the subject almost never comes up in school. Studies show that so few Americans are savvy savers that 64% of adults today couldn’t even cover an unexpected emergency expense of $1000. With the exception of running a lemonade stand, my money knowledge growing up was limited at best. I had to learn the hard way as an adult – when I found myself floundering in debt from credit cards and student loan payments and realized I needed to get out.

As part of the social media launch team for the book Smart Money Smart Kids, I got to preview an advanced copy of Dave Ramsey’s new book before the official release, and I honestly think this book should be in every smart mama’s hands! If you don’t know Dave Ramsey yet, he’s just this super awesome money guy who speaks common sense about money and about life, AND he’s helped me get out from under a HUGE pile of debt, but that’s a story for another time.

Better Late Than Never?

Even though my kid is already a teenager, and some of these money lessons really should have been taught a looong time ago, I dove right in to this book, and I was hooked after the first few pages. I felt like I was sitting around the kitchen table with Dave and his daughter, Rachel, as they shared stories of why (and how) we can teach kids to be winners with money and in life. I’ve gained a ton of insight into some important money lessons I can start teaching my son, even if I’m a little late to the party. I’ll pass along to you my top four. It starts today!

Money Lessons 1-4:

1) How to control impulsive spending habits. Patience is a virtue, but it’s also discovering that “a lot of things you think you want actually turn out to be not as great as you expected” (cue Rachel’s yellow Xterra story in Chapter 4). Delaying a purchase that is not the right purchase can lead to a level of empowerment your child never expected, not to mention, often a much better deal. Great lesson for any age, I’d say!

#2) Hard work never killed anyone. The sooner kids learn the connection between money and work, the Better. Even a young child understands work, get paid; don’t work, don’t get paid (Rachel explains Dave’s take on kids’ allowance in Chapter 2). As parents, if we avoid teaching our kids the value of work, we aren’t being kind or gracious, just irresponsible. Help squash the entitlement mentality by teaching kids work = money.

#3) How to save up for things. Setting savings goals is a smart money lesson, but also a lesson your kids need for life. Sure, some money earned should be spent, but saving money, with a plan (and starting early) is an important lesson. Is this easy to do? NOPE! That’s why we parents MUST emphasize saving (check out the 401 Dave Plan in Chapter 4) early, often, and in concrete ways.

#4) God owns it all and we are just stewards (i.e. the “managers”). Looking at money in a way that emphasizes it’s “not all about me”, can be life changing for your kids. Winning with money is not only about saving and spending, it’s also about giving. Giving a portion of our money, or even our time and our talents (Chapter 3 has a great story of what Dave’s son Daniel did with his leftover car money), can help children develop a heart for others.

One of Dave Ramsey’s familiar mantras is “live like no one else and later you’ll get to live (and give) like no one else.” In my life, I am grateful that I have finally found financial peace, even though the journey was a long one filled with many sacrifices and challenges, setbacks and successes (and some more sacrifices and challenges). I’ve made many money mistakes in my life, but just as it wasn’t too late for me, it is definitely not too late to teach money lessons to your teens. The reward will pay dividends for years to come!


Smart Money Smart Kids is a great gift for yourself, or to give your grown kids who are ready to start families of their own. I hope you gain something out of it as much as I did!


In this thing with you, to your success and beyond,



More on money:
Teaching our Children Well: More is Caught than Taught

How Craigslist Helped Me Raise Money Smart Kids

Do you have a teen that needs a “Cliff Notes version” of how to be a winner with money? What are you doing about it?

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2 thoughts on “4 Money Lessons Your Teen Needs to Win at Life”

  1. Hi, Laurie. Great message in this post (and in your bog!) – it’s not too late! Thankful for a tool like this book to help us!

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