Finding the line in the sand; on teenagers and the value of money

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by Jamie MacDonald

Well, I cannot say that I know exactly what a teenager may be thinking when he or she is asked about the future value of money. I do recall my youthful days when getting my first pay cheque was a most joyous occasion. It meant a new sense of freedom and a rite of passage. It also meant that I could spend it any way I wanted to… a night on the town, a new pair of jeans or even flowers for my girlfriend. But it was meant to be spent. Not to be saved. So when does the ‘line in the sand’ appear for us where money earned is supposed to be saved.

For most of us growing up in Nova Scotia, the youthful years were guided by our parents, educators and mentors. Our minds were molded in preparation for our adult years ahead. We learned the skills that lead us into adulthood and independence. A life of responsibility and purpose. A point in our lives where our financial future would start to take hold. Unfortunately for some, the so called ‘line in the sand’ is only an illusion. Unable to comprehend the idea of saving for the future, their lives are here and now. An attitude very reflective from our youthful days.

We live in a world of wants and needs, where purchases are often made with credit. We simply use future earnings to pay for the present. Purchasing a home with a mortgage is a good example; credit cards are not so good. I remember my first credit card (another rite of passage). Reality struck home when I maximized the card and the monthly interest payments consumed my hard earned pay. I realized that the pair of jeans I purchased were equivalent to two long hours working in the warehouse. So how does our youth learn about saving for the future and the value of money.

Understanding the future value of money, or simply saving for the future, comes from educating yourself and from others. Having the willingness to begin saving comes from experience and taking on responsibilities. This change in attitudes needs to begin early in our youthful years and it can be accomplished by taking some first steps. For me it was simply getting my first summer job. Regardless of the steps teenagers take as young adults, a positive approach to their financial future will teach them the future value of money and hopefully help them find that ‘line in the sand’.

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Jamie MacDonald, RHU
JS MacDonald Financial Services
Antigonish, NS

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