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Secret Advice For Teenagers Who Love to Spend Money

You know who you are – a teenager who loves to spend money like it’s going out of style. You spend money faster than it takes a Snapchat to disappear. Money comes into your hand one minute and flows out like water the next.

spend moneyAnd you like it that way!

If that’s you, I have some special advice today. It’s unusual, maybe even secret advice. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard any adult say this to you before. In fact, your parents may hate me for saying this because it might go against how they have instructed you to handle money. So I’m actually running a big risk here.

But before I reveal this big secret about spending your money, you have to promise me something.

The promise I’m asking you to make is to read this entire post. You are going to love what I have to say about spending money,  but you can’t take it as stand alone advice without understanding the bigger picture. As they say, the devil is in the details. So I’m asking for five minutes of your time to help you avoid a huge potential failure when spending money.

Ready for the big, secret advice? OK, here goes…

Go ahead and spend money because there will never be another time in your life with fewer financial obligations than you have right now.

Now remember that promise to read the rest of the post? Good – because I’ve got some serious explaining to do.

Six Reasons You Love to Spend Money

Have you ever thought about why you love to spend money? Don’t worry if it’s never crossed your mind. Most adults haven’t considered it either.

I’ve been working with teens most of my adult life. Based on what I’ve see and heard, one of these issues is likely driving your spending:

1. You don’t understand yourself.

Believe it or not there are actually personality types that are more prone to spend money than others. Some people are natural savers while others are natural spenders. Put me in the natural spender’s camp. I love to spend money!

I didn’t realize this about myself though until I was in my 30s. Several life events prompted me into some personal soul-searching. Many issues about my financial habits clicked when I figured myself out.

Personality is not an excuse to spend but it can create a natural tendency for you to want to spend.

2. You don’t work for your money.

I’ve known many teens that are simply given money by their parents just because. They didn’t do anything for it. It was just a handout – found money.

Consequently, they don’t value it as much.

It’s the difference between caring for a car that you bought versus simply using your parent’s car. You’ll freak out if soda is spilled in the back seat of your personal car. Not so much if it’s your parents. You’ll clean both up but you’ll be more ticked it happened in your own car.

3. You struggle with discipline.

I’m not sure anyone likes discipline or likes to be disciplined. We like the outcome of what discipline produces in our life but the actual process of discipline is painful. It’s no fun in the moment.

But being disciplined about money teaches us delayed gratification. That’s a grown up term that means you forget about the pleasures of the moment for a reward that will come later. I sure didn’t get that concept when I was your age.

4. The future isn’t clear.

When I was a teen it was really difficult to see 20 years down the road. I was more interested in my basketball game, my girlfriends, and the homework I had to do every night. Picturing my future life most of the time was an afterthought.

That’s really important though in regards to how you spend money in the present. If you can’t project forward with your thoughts, then you can’t see how your current habits impact your future. To you, money and the things it brings are a present reality only, not a future consideration.

5. You want to have fun and fit in.

Two of the driving forces of your life right now are having fun and fitting into a social crowd of some kind. Most likely it’s the biggest reason you are spending money so rapidly. Money buys access to fun and when we are having fun with friends we fit in.

Related Content: More Money, More Problems: The 10 Challenges of the Wealthy

Spending money can help solve both needs. It’s not the only way to solve them but it’s probably the easiest way to resolve both problems. And unfortunately, you are probably looking for the easiest path to gain the biggest results. Realistically though, life doesn’t work that way.

6. You haven’t faced financial hardship.

This may come as a shock but, financially speaking, you have it easy right now.

You haven’t faced the responsibility of putting food on the table or providing shelter or paying insurance.

You don’t know what it’s like to be out of work and have people depending on you.

And you haven’t remotely considered what a life of retirement with no money means.

Because you have not experienced some kind of financial hardship, you view money as a plaything. It’s Monopoly money to spend freely with no real consequences.

Did you see yourself in any of those categories? Not all of them probably describe your mindset but my guess is you are partly dealing with at least one issue.

If you are, don’t be discouraged. You are not alone. I went through this at your age and many others have to.

The trick though is growing out of your financial infancy and the sooner the better. Don’t be like me and wait to learn about yourself until you are 30.

There is nothing wrong with spending your money as long as you have the right perspective about it. That’s what I’m going to talk about in the final section. So keep reading – you promised!

If You Are Going to Spend Money Do These Things First

As my wife and I earn money each month from our jobs, we have to prioritize where that goes. Sure, we’d love to blow it all on fun and be flicking those bills right out of our hands. That would be sweet in the moment but not so much in the end.

We have obligations to meet with our money and so do you. Whether you worked hard for the money or your parents simply gave it to you, you have a responsibility to make wise choices with it. And above all, you must come to understand and appreciate this truth:

Money is sacred and finite. If you don’t respect money it will end up ruling your life and you’ll have very little of it.

Don’t misunderstand. Money is not something to be worshiped or reverenced like one might do to God. But to use another spiritual term, money is sanctified (or set apart) for our daily needs. Without some form of currency we couldn’t survive to any reasonable standard of living.

The Bible tells a story of a young man who once received an early inheritance from his father. He went off to a foreign land and spent it on whatever he pleased. The Bible says he wasted everything he owned in an effort to make himself feel good.

When he had nothing left and no means to support himself do you now where he ended up? Feeding pigs for a local farmer. We are told he was so hungry he wanted to eat the food given to the pigs. Gross!

That’s not a place I ever want to end up.

So, when money finds it’s way into your hands follow this pattern in spending it:

1. Spend on necessities first.

This should be the first priority. Buy things you absolutely need. For you, this could include gas for the car and clothing. Perhaps it’s also food, housing and utilities if you are living on your own.

The trick here will be determining what’s truly a need and what is something you just want. There is nothing wrong with wanting stuff but don’t lie to yourself and say it’s a need. A new PS5 or the latest iProduct is not a need.

2. Spend on your future.

Although really challenging, you have to begin to think ahead. This means spending money to prepare for and fund college or any other future goals you might have. Your parents will probably help with this but many of you will be responsible for part of the cost of college.

Related Content: 18 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College

If you waste all your money now you won’t be able to fund your education. In fact, the #1 reason students are now dropping out of college is not because of grades but because of financial related issues.

3. Spend on things that create short and long-term value.

Once your present and future is taken care of, you can look to spend money on things that bring personal value to your life. What I’m talking about here are activities that enrich you as a person or are done with friends and produce lasting memories.

You probably want this last one to be first. Sorry, it can’t be. Fun has to come after responsibility.

But the good news is that you can do all three of these at once as long as you give them the priority they deserve. And the best way to determine how to spend money is to track your spending and make a budget. That will help you figure out how to use the money you have coming in each month.

Related Content: The Ultimate Guide on How to Make the Best Monthly Budget

People that consistently budget their money and passionately stick to it win with money. It was the biggest thing that turned my financial habits around.

Some Final Thoughts…

If you’ve read this far congratulations are in order. You have more focus than most young people. And thank you for fulfilling your promise to read to the end.

Spending money is really fun. And despite what you may have heard there is nothing evil about it. I believe when done properly and in moderation it’s actually beneficial for our lives.

Spending is not the only avenue though in which money can head. To become a 100% bona fide financial ninja you’ll also have to pursue two other activities in which all successful and wealthy people participate…saving and giving.

Related Content: Emergency Fund Basics: The Step on Which All Other Success is Built

Related Content: How to Develop a Purposeful Plan for Giving Away Money

When giving, saving and spending come together in the right mix, your financial life will be a thing of beauty. You’ll experience a symmetry and peace that many adults don’t even have.

You’ll set yourself up for a life of success if you can learn these principles now. It’s never too early to start.

I’d love to hear what you think about this. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Leave a Comment Below or Answer a Question: What do you love to spend money on the most? Is it easy or hard for you to spend money? Do people always criticize you for spending money and if so, why is that? Are you actively giving, saving and spending? Does the future worry you?

For adults…what would you say to the teens and college students out there about how to handle their money? What was it like for you at that age? Did spending money come easy to you?

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  1. This article is so on point. As a youth I’m guilty that I do excessive money spending habits and I need those advises. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • It’s just not you…we have all spent excessively at some point. But it’s good that you recognize the issue. That is the first step in fixing it.

  2. Masterfully written, Brian. I hope tons of teens read to the end. Looking forward to sharing with our community.


  3. I really wish I could have spent my money on things that had long-term values. My spending habits as a teen were terrible. All those furry animal keychains..What was I thinking?

  4. I kick myself for not saving even a small portion of what I earned from odd jobs I had from age 16 on. You are so right that it’s almost impossible to see the future when you’re that young. Hopefully, I can share my wisdom with our daughter so she might think twice before blowing all her money on junk. I think she’s already doing way better than I ever did at her age.

    • “…share my wisdom with our daughter…” That’s the way to go Kim. Break the cycle so the next generation does it better than we did. 🙂

  5. Love this, Brian! I see this every day. We live in an affluent community and so many kids are handed money on request and when that stops, they get themselves into so much trouble because they haven’t been taught how to handle their money wisely. I’m getting lots of requests to talk to kids before they head off to college or graduate from college to give them 18 or 22 years worth of financial lessons in one conversation. It’s so important we talk to our kids about money.

    • “…handed money on request…” This practice by parents (and grandparents) leads to some real issues, the most important of which is that kids need to learn the value of work and how that is linked to financial reward. Money won’t fall out of the trees for them when they are out of college. They will have to go earn it.

      Not that money can never be given…it just shouldn’t be the norm.

  6. Thank you for this excellent and informative post! As a Christian teen who wants to honor God with her money (and go to college in the bargain!) this really inspired me, and reminded me of the path I want to be on.
    Keep up the good work! 😉

    • “…As a Christian teen who wants to honor God with her money…” Love it! If you keep that attitude Skye you won’t go wrong!

  7. I work with so many young people who don’t have a grasp on money because of all of the reasons you listed, but more importantly because their parents didn’t help teach them. Many of my clients were given debit and credit cards from their parent’s accounts and not given any limitations beyond that. I have an 18 year old client right now who is actually very motivated to spend responsibly because she has a large and important goal in her life. Without goals and focus, it’s tough to teach money lessons but an easy way to teach it is with limitations and a budget. My son is 9 and knows the importance of money because he has to pay for many things himself and he lives off of cash rather than debit or credit cards.

    • “…given debit and credit cards from their parent’s accounts and not given any limitations beyond that.” Oh my…that’s a recipe for disaster. Teens with unchecked credit card accounts…good grief!

  8. Excellent post Brian! As a teen, spending came WAY too easily for me, lol. Seriously though, I think a lot of it came through seeing the examples I had and having little education/teaching on it plus being a stereotypical teenager. In terms of what I’d say, I’m right there with you and really making it a point to help think through the want vs. need discussion while putting that through the prism of priorities.

    • “…seeing the examples I had…” Isn’t that the truth! Parents listen up…your kids will do what they see you do not what you tell them to do.

  9. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    Brian, I just wish I had read this kind of post years back when I was still unmarried and a bachelor. If I had, my life would have been much better and not have wasted much with video games and clothes.

    • “…read this kind of post years back…” LOL…me too Jayson. Unfortunately during my teen years there was no Internet to speak of.

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