Money & Teens

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Money & Teens

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Saving—that’s something we often hear about. We know that it’s the right thing to do, but it’s sometimes so hard not to spend the money that we have right now!

One of the fruits of God’s Spirit is “self-control” (Galatians 5:23 Galatians 5:23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
). Self-control is something we all can learn, and it’s important in the world of our finances. It helps not only in putting money aside in savings (having the self-control not to spend it!) but also in keeping it invested. For example, when the stock market goes down, many people panic and sell when values are low, thus losing money. Patience and self-control in finance can prevent us from making mistakes like this.

When we have money, do we get the itch to spend it right away—to rush out and instantly gratify our desires by getting something that we have had our eyes on? Being able to say “no” or “not now, but later” can help make us feel great about our choices.

We need to think about other things we will be able to do with the money in the future. One trick someone once told me was to think about all those rusty old cars. They were all shiny and new once, but now they are used up. Anything that we spend money on can seem great at first, but we need to think about how we will feel about our purchase in the future.

We can also think about what other things we may need and want in the future. My five-year-old daughter would spend all of her money on more Barbie dolls (she already has more than she knows what to do with!) or on candy (like I sadly did), but I know that she will want to have the money to spend on other things when she is older.

Look for someone you can use as a role model and try to pattern your financial life on what he or she did or is doing. This is a way of keeping yourself focused and on track to being financially successful. Look at what savers are able to accomplish.

There is the true story of Walt Disney’s housekeeper. Every year during the holidays Mr. Disney gave her one share of Disney company stock. She didn’t make much, but she decided to save her stocks rather than just cashing them in for money. When she retired, she had over a million dollars worth of Disney stock!

Having said the above, it is also okay at times to spend money now. If all our money is going toward big, future things, we can feel like we’re punishing ourselves now! But you can always save something, and in the future you will be glad you did.

Jobs

A job is a good way for young people to earn money and learn what it’s really like in the working world. You can also start building good work habits. But don’t wade in over your head and get distracted from school by trying to earn money.

I had a friend from Detroit, Michigan, who was one of the only people from his high school to go on to college right after high school. Others got jobs in car factories and got sidetracked from continuing their education. Not that it’s wrong to work instead of continuing school, but later in life many of these people realized that they should have continued their education when they had the chance.

Look into things that you will enjoy doing for their own sake when looking for jobs (Ecclesi-astes 2:24). When I was a teen I enjoyed being outdoors and spent a few summers offering to care for neighbors’ yards while they were away. I made some money doing what I enjoyed.

Allowances

Allowances usually come in return for doing chores—mine included emptying the trash and cleaning up after the dog. It was messy, but I learned to work to earn money.

Later I was able to pay for most of my college tuition working at a number of jobs. Some were not very classy or exciting (I was a janitor twice), but I had time to think and I was able to finish school without any debt.

I spent most of my allowance on candy. My parents would often give me my allowance in older coins. Now I wish I had instead collected them because they would be valuable today; especially as collectors are now willing to pay Antiques Roadshow prices for some of those dimes and quarters that I wasted on rotting my teeth!

Investments

Jesus talked about earning interest in His parables. For instance, in Matthew 25:27 Matthew 25:27You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury.
American King James Version×
, He mentions that the servants left behind to manage the master’s money should have invested it. Have you heard of the tremendous power of compound interest? There is a mathematical truth that the longer you save money, the faster it grows. This is because in time more and more interest is earned on previously earned interest, not just the small amount that you may have initially put in.

I know a young person who was able to put away a few hundred dollars into a mutual fund. In less than 10 years, that amount had grown 10 times (1,000 percent)! He will be able to use it to help with a down payment on a house.

You can start with as little as $250 to invest in good mutual funds, stocks, bonds or other financial instruments. Quicken’s Web site has a list of these “low-cost, low-minimum” funds at: www.quicken.com/investments/mutualfunds/finder .

Or you can even buy single shares (or more!) of companies through discount brokers (you might want to check out Wrigley—they also give you a box of chewing gum every year!) or direct from the companies by mail (these include companies like Daimler-Chrysler, Disney, ExxonMobil, Ford, Hershey, IBM, McDonald’s, Nokia, Sony and Wal-Mart).

Parents can put money aside for teens in special accounts (called UTMA or UGMA) in which the interest earned is either tax-free or only taxed at a very low rate. You can talk to your relatives about this, because the money will become yours when you turn 18 or 21 and can come in very handy for college or such things.

However you get money—from an allowance, gift or a job—the exciting thing is using it wisely through savings, investment or education to achieve your long-range goals. You will feel good about your choices and you will be learning lessons that will last a lifetime.

For more information on this subject, request the free booklet Managing Your Finances . You can read it or request it online at www.ucg.org/booklets . VT

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