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Positive Parenting of Teenagers: Helping Your Teen Understand What I Cant Afford It Means

Because most teens have not had the experience of getting to the end of the money before the end of the month, the words, ``I can't afford it,'' have little or no meaning.

Here's what can happen in lots of homes:

``Mom, can I get a new (fill in the blank)?''

``No, honey, I'm sorry, but we can't afford it.''

``But mo-mom. Everybody else has one!''

``No, we can't afford it.''

``But mo-mom, (lots of words involving hassling and bugging).''

``We can't afford it!''

Repeat this process a few times and here's what you get:

``Alright, you can have it, just this once. But don't ask for anything else!''

Yeah, right.

What the kid learns is that what "we can't afford it" really means is I just haven't bugged and hassled enough.

Here's a very concrete way to teach kids about money, where it all goes, and what ``we can't afford it'' really means.

This one can work for kids middle-school age and above.

Parents, take your next paycheck to the bank and have it cashed in all one dollar bills. (The bank tellers are going to just love me!) Bring it home and call a family meeting. On the kitchen table, make a pile of all the ones. Then separate all the household bills into their own separate pile. For each bill, (house payment, car payment, braces, health insurance, electric bill, etc.) count out the one dollar bills and place them in the appropriate pile.

In this way, kids get to see a very clear visual picture of where the money goes. It gives them a context for understanding "we can't afford that right now."

All of these suggestions and techniques serve to teach teens about the successful management of money in their lives. Come to think of it, these suggestions could be useful for grown-ups as well.

Visit ParentingYourTeenager.com for tips and tools for thriving during the teen years. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 5 day e-program on The Top 5 Things to Never Say to Your Teenager, from parenting coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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