How to Teach Your Teenager the Value of an Online Dollar

It’s easier now more than ever to get into some serious debt. With the ease of credit cards and online shopping, it can feel like money comes out of thin air. This can be especially so with teenagers.

As teaching in remote locations steadily becomes the norm, the importance of learning to responsibly navigate the web cannot be overstated. The older your child gets, the greater their financial wants will become. They are no longer purchasing toy cars and computers, but real ones with price tags to match.

Unless your teenager knows the value of an online dollar, a lifetime of debt could be in their future. There are many creative ways to teach your kids to be frugal. However, by teaching money management, online shopping safety, and smart shopping tips to your teen, money troubles will be one less thing for them (and you!) to worry about.

It’s All About the Money

The first step in teaching your teen responsible online shopping is to first teach them how to manage their money wisely. To be financially successful in any pursuit, one needs to know how to work within a budget. That includes your teenager.

Before even browsing an online store, talk with your child about making a spending plan. Have them make a list of what they need and want. This will help them prioritize which items to purchase while still remaining within budget.

Also teach them to shop around before committing to a specific store and item. Another store can offer the same thing at a much cheaper price. You can even educate your teenager on the value of credit if they happen to go over budget.

By having them pay you more than the original cost later for an item, it can teach young adults the importance of waiting to purchase something when they can actually afford it. Most important of all, teach them to save for a rainy day.

They’ll never know what kind of extra expenses will pop up in the future. Inform teenage children of the consequences if they don’t have some money saved up for such expenses.

Online Safety First

Although you and your teenager will not succumb to any physical harm on the internet, your finances can take a serious hit if either of you are not careful. One thing to keep an eye out for when online shopping is scams. Thieves pretending to be reputable sources will email and send you or your teenager messages to click a link to their store.

Do not do this. These criminals are clever in that their URLs will be very similar to a more recognizable site so that they are able to glean important information from you such as passwords, credit card numbers, and even your Social Security number. To be as safe as possible shopping online, have your teen:

  • Type https:// before the URL. This will lead them to a secure site. Also have them type in the URL instead of clicking on it.
  • Use a credit card. Although many struggle with whether to use or not use a credit card, it’s the best option when shopping online. You’ll only be responsible for paying back a relatively small amount of money if your identity gets stolen, whereas you can lose your entire savings with a debit card.
  • Shop from their own, private computer with the latest antivirus software. Shopping from public computers is a big no-no. The computer could be infected with malware and steal your personal information.
  • Protect themselves online by making a strong password. It needs to be unique with a variety of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols. The more characters, the better (at least 8 characters long).   

Shop Smart

There’s no point in paying full price when you don’t have to. There are many different online shopping hacks that you and your teenager can take advantage of today to become savvy savers. One such hack is to online shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Many online retailers offer deals on these days since the weekend is when physical stores receive the most business. It’s also wise to leave your items in your cart for a day instead of immediately buying them. Sometimes online stores will email you a discount to encourage you to complete your order.

You can also wait for better deals to come and apply them to your items later. Have your teenager research if the online store they’re shopping on has a rewards program as well. By purchasing items that give points, your child can save money on other purchases down the road.

Lastly, have your teenager take a look at the shipping fees before they make their final purchase. Some vendors require a minimum purchase to enable free shipping.

The one thing you don’t want your growing teenager to have is a growing amount of debt. However, if you teach them how to manage their money, shop safely, and shop smart, your young adult will be well on their way to becoming financially responsible (and happy) adults.

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About Brooke Faulkner

Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two boys in the Pacific Northwest. Her boys both love online gaming, and she's lost many Nintendo matches to them over the years. To read more of her work, follow her @faulknercreek

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