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Teen Jobs Lead To Money Management
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE --Teen-agers who venture into the world of part-time jobs realize that managing money is not always easy, and they may need help from parents.
"Parents should help their teen determine obligations and a spending plan," said Dr. Beverly Howell, family economics and management specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Parents should also help them stick to it."
Budgeting is a good place to start when teens are learning to manage their money. Three essential steps in designing a budget are:
- Identify income sources. This can include allowance, pay from a part-time job, savings, interest, dividends and grants.
- List fixed and flexible expenses. Fixed expenses are exact amounts due on a specific date. Flexible expenses include money spent on wants and needs that are not due at a specific time.
- Review and modify the plan. If expenses exceed income, identify ways to increase income or reduce expenses.
"It's a parent's prerogative to put limits on spending up front," Howell said. "In some situations, the teen may become responsible for some of their own expenses like car maintenance, gas, insurance or even loan payments."
If certain responsibilities are given to the teen, more discipline is necessary, but that does not mean that there will be no mistakes.
"We're all going to make mistakes with money, especially when just starting out. Parents need to be careful to not always bail out their teen," Howell said.
"There should always be a purpose for saving money. Whether for an emergency fund or a goal down the road, a reason or goal for saving makes a teen more likely to do it," Howell said.
Budget a portion of the money earned to put into savings. This should be one of the first concepts that a teenager learns.
Harvey Gordon, state 4-H specialist at MSU, said there are two types of teens who have jobs, those who need a job and those who want a job.
"Teens who need jobs tend to do a better job managing their resources because the money comes in and goes to meet family needs," Gordon said. "Those who work just for the sake of working tend to spend it all, but developing a budget is a cure for those who have a tendency to spend their earnings too easily."
Evaluate spending habits before setting a budget, and set short-term, intermediate and long-term goals. Guidelines on setting a budget, determining income and expenses, budgeting tips and gaining insight on how to make better decisions about handling money are available through the Extension Service.