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The Youth Personal Finance Challenge: beyond texting, surfing and raging hormones

The high finance of parenting requires patience and inspiration more than money.

The high finance of parenting requires patience and inspiration more than money.

Young people are selfish. That’s a fact of life. Raging hormones, peer pressure, and identity issues are all hot ingredients in the cauldron we call teenage life, and dealing with these are not easy for them either.

It took me quite awhile as a parent to accept this without my irritability antennae going up. I used to be so frustrated as I watched my only baby girl transform from this sweet and delightful angel into a distant, pouting, mp3 devourer. But as soon as I found the inner resolve to see and feel about things as she did, I mellowed and learned to shut up and listen.

Result: she learned to communicate with more patience with her aging mom. We stopped talking to each other and had many, delightful two-way conversations. We talk about everything and anything, including sex, boys, body odor and David Archuleta vs David Cook. It was possible, after all, to drown the parental panic by repeating this in my head: “being self-absorbed is just a phase!”

Occasionally, I would insert a couple or more pointers about personal finance.  I admit, investing and saving money wisely are principles that don’t get into her mindstream as easily as “how to be cool when your crush is around.” But I can see that little by little, the messages are hitting home run.

Here are some things that worked for me:

  1. Repetition. In the beginning, I had to accept that finance is farthest from her mind and that I will have to repeat concepts like interest and inflation. Just accept that and quell the frustration, I told myself. Explaining in simple terms is also important, and I use analogies as mush as I can. But don’t forget that while the youth financial vocabulary may be limited, they are not dumb, so no talking down to them.
  2. Teaching is not the same as coaching. To me, it’s coaching that they need. Make teaching moments experiential and encouraging. Bring them to the grocery and show them how to compare apples with apples, not literally speaking of course! Make it fun; have a contest! Let them appreciate the wet market and don’t get discouraged by the complaints. Just pretend you’re deaf and smile!
  3. Enable them to save and spend wisely. Give allowances as barya (change) and show them—not tell them—how to set aside at least 10% per day for their savings and another 10% for tithes before they go to school. Go with them to the bank to set up their account and make a big deal out of it! You can let your teenager meet the manager for an experience she will never forget.
  4. Follow up regularly. They will do it when you know you will follow up and ask them how they are doing with their goals. It’s never too early for kids to learn the joy of goal setting—but don’t push too hard!
  5. Set up financial accounts with them. Start with a bank account, then a time deposit, a mutual fund or unit investment trust fund, an RTB and then an online stock market account, in that order. Don’t be afraid if they lose money from time to time in their financial placements. That’s life—even for adults!

The youth will be a crucial part of financial literacy work because of their sheer numbers. Look at these figures from the World Bank:

Young people are not only the future, they are also the now. In 2007, the number of people worldwide aged 12-24 reached 1.3 billion, the largest in history. Nearly half the people of the world today are under 25 years old. Nine out of ten of these young people live in developing countries. More importantly, the majority of the developing world’s poor are children and youth.

So let’s prepare them for the future. Would love to hear how you were taught by your parents or how you are teaching your children now!

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Posted in Parenting.

22 Responses

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  1. Google says

    Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. However
    just imagine if you added some great images or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this website could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its niche.
    Wonderful blog!

  2. salve says

    Fast Wheels, your son is 2 months old? Best time now to invest in his name! Kahit small lang. That would be your best lesson for him, seeing that P5,000 investment grow over time. Priceless!

  3. Fast Wheels says

    Awesome tips Salve! My son was born last February 20 and already, I’m thinking of ways to be more responsible with money and how I can teach my son to do the same.

  4. abel says

    children becomes what they see from their parents, bt of course they choose to have their own way.We could just guide them thru living to our conviction and principles especially in financial matters

  5. Jun Alarcon says

    Hi peeps, happy new year! i personally created an application for practical finance tracking. know where your money comes and goes and where you are right now… liquid ka pa ba or negative na? hope this helps you in your 2011 budgeting…

  6. Syrene says

    Hi..Ms.Salve!Have seen you on ANC,have watched the 4 piggy banks part and etc..
    as soon as i have my paycheck will try to motivate my self with this process..More power!

  7. Rica S. Gonzales says

    Ms. Salve, we are an Employee Assistance Provider for Multi-National companies giving Lunch and Learn sessions, or brown bag sessions in a 1-1&1/2 -hour’s – duration.
    You are the one the company is requesting to be their speaker on ” Financial Planning for Generation Y”. Can you please revert back to me if you can make yourself available towards the last week of January. Thank you.

  8. Harvey Morris says

    i just thought that adam lambert has a much better voice than David Archuleta-“`

  9. Jason Holmes says


    My name is Jason. I am a professional blogger who loves to write on financial topics. I’m writing to you because I am currently trying to take my author identity to the next level by supplying informative articles to personal finance bloggers. I don’t believe in writing promotional articles, instead I feel informative stuff are something users are most interested in reading.

    I would hereby like to request an opportunity to write a guest post on your site, ofcourse free of charge. You can send me your preferred topic, if any, and I would be happy to write an article on it. I can show you some of my past work that have attracted good number of visitors.

    Anyways, you are doing a great job on with your blog and I’d like to talk to you in person, so I’d be happy if you could answer either way!

    Jason Holmes

  10. Camila Perry says

    David Archuleta has a great voice but i do think that it is not the best voice”-;

  11. Lydia Owen says

    David Archuleta is great but for me, the best is still Kelly Clarkson-“,

  12. Zoe Ali says

    David Archuleta is definitely one of the best singer in American Idol.:,-

  13. mangberto says

    So true, Salve! Icebreaker muna, peeps –

  14. Rose says

    Hi Salve. Nice to chance upon your “new home” today. Last night Anton (remember my youngest son?) was just excitedly telling us about his total assets (remember this term surprised Pia last year when they appeared in her show?) as of Dec 31, 2009 after he updated his Balance Sheet. Imagine it has been a year since that time? Your baby must be big by now. Anyway, Anton is very happy with his portfolio which is heavy on stocks because of the fantastic rise in the market last year. He is following what I shared with him when I read a book by David Bach that our stocks should comprise the bigger chunk of our portfolio while we are young. His proposed formula is 110 minus age = equity holdings so since my son just turned 13 that’s a whopping 97%. I once asked him, “Don’t you think your portfolio is too risky?” He answered, “No, you and Papa always say stocks are long term assets and since I’m still very young I can afford to wait it out. When my portfolio goes down now, my lifestyle will still be the same. It is when your portfolio goes down that my lifestyle will change, right?” :-)

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  15. Teejay says

    Another thing I would do when I have a child would be to give him the chance to earn more money. This not to abuse the child but to teach him the value of working and achieving a reward.

  16. says

    Hi Salve! I am thinking of ways to make my daughter save and impress upon her the importance of being financially savvy – but she gives me this look – haha – well, she is just 8, after all. She did have a fun time caroling last Christmas and earning (earning!) from that so maybe there is hope. I guess getting children into activities where they will earn money is good. I will try also your tips and your readers’ tips above. Thanks for this post!

  17. Karen says

    Hi Salve! Re no. 5 above, I’ve done the first four steps with my 14-year-old son. His UITF went down by 40 percent last year, and he blamed me for my “poor financial decision.” haha! Global financial meltdown kaya. Online stock market account — maybe soon. :-)

  18. hachiko says

    Salve share ko lang ito. British kids interviewed about money matters. So funny and smart-alecky! 😀

    Is it easy to save money?
    – I think it is hard to save up money, because you have to be good and that is really complicated for me. I have to make my bed, wash up and all that, but sometimes I can’t be bothered so I don’t get any money.

    How much does a house cost?
    – I would pay £3,000 for a big house, £2,000 for a middle-size house, and £1,000 for a bungalow.

    Do you know an average house costs about £150,000?
    – Now I know why my mum keeps on saying that we are poor!

    If you had £1m, what would you do with it?
    – I would drive to London, earn another £1m, then I would pay the Queen for her house. She can live in my old house.

    If you had children but not enough money to feed them, what would you do?
    – I’d make sure I looked good so I could get a very rich husband who could pay for things.

  19. salve says

    hi marlu! you’re very kind :). it would also be nice to know how different is the experience for mothers like you who have migrated to the US versus staying here, in terms of the challenges in raising money-smart kids!

  20. ALVIN T. TABANAG, RFP says

    Hi, Salve. I think I have a PhD in Repitition. I say rules, regulations, procedures, snippets of wisdom, etc. over and over and over and over until it is permanently etched in my daughter’s consciousness. And I will never tire of doing it; I’ll do it even in my sleep.

    Anyway, here are two other tips which can help children be more responsible managers of their money:

    1. Let them budget their money. Instead of giving their allowance on a daily basis, make it weekly or monthly. If money is replenished daily there’s no compulsion for children to save money. “Ok lang maubos, bibigyan naman uli ako ng baon bukas,” they will say. Giving them a weekly or monthly allowance will force them to manage their money properly and help them resist the temptation to overspend in the first few days. They will become more conscious of what they’re spending on.

    2. Implement a “matched savings” program. To encourage my daughter to save more, we match whatever savings she has at the end of the week. If she has P100 left, we give another P100 for a total savings of P200 for the week. Ngayon napaka-wais na ng anak ko sa paggastos ng allowance nya. She’s saving 30-50% (occasionally, even more) of her weekly allowance.

  21. Marlu says

    Hi Salve,
    Shame on me that even if I am much older than you and have raised 5 sons, I must admit that I learned from your very practical conclusions. I will take your advice for my youngest son who is 16 years old. I just gave allowances to my children and it was up to them on how to spend it. But when I was young, I was taught on how to save starting with a piggy bank and then my mother opened a savings account for me. I would also go to the bank with her, see her safety deposit box also, and I was exposed to financial matters. I forgot to pass it on to my children. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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