By Diana Simeon
Sure, it’s helpful for your teenager to know how to do laundry, shop for groceries, and clean a bathroom. But being able to manage money is not just helpful; it’s a cornerstone of responsible adulthood. That means it’s important for parents to teach teenagers basic financial skills before college. That means teaching them how to use a checking account. Let’s start with checking account basics.
How To Use A Checking Account
1. Open a checking account well before your teenager leaves for college. Most banks will allow you to open a checking account starting at age 13.
2. Show your teenager how to use the account. This includes withdrawing cash, depositing cash or checks (at the ATM, inside the bank, and online), paying bills, and tracking balances. Download the app to his phone, so he learns how to do his banking online too.
3. Practice actual check writing. Though it’s not often that any of us need to write a check anymore, it’s still a skill your teenager will likely need at some point (think: paying rent). Writing a check is not intuitive. Get your teenager accustomed to filling out a check. If she doesn’t have bills to pay of her own, then have her write you a check every now and then—or let her fill out your checks (and then you sign).
4. To balance or not to balance the checkbook? With up-to-the-minute balances just a click away, it can be tempting not to balance a checkbook. And many adults don’t. But doing so can be a helpful way to reinforce the idea that the balance you see on the screen may not accurately reflect the amount of money you have available to spend (think: outstanding checks, scheduled bill payments).
Diana Simeon is editorial consultant at Your Teen.