Money Talk 101: The First Conversation

Having the first money conversation with your teen might take some skills and preparation in order for it to go well.

Remember, the most important part of the discussion is about long-term money goals.  When I talk to my students about their money goals, the first thing I learn is their belief in what they think is possible (and often times, not possible) for themselves.

There are FOUR kinds of responses I get when I ask teens, “How much money do you want to have in the bank by the time you are 50 years old?”

Before I get into it, though, I want to remind you that I KNOW these kids!  I am their English teacher, and after 25 years of teaching experience, I see patterns in who they are in school and what they say about money.

Here’s how it typically goes:

  1. “Go Away”.    These teenagers are the ones who think they can’t have the lives of their dreams, who think they have already failed enough to think this is possible, and who haven’t been around adults who are goal-oriented.  They become very uninterested, very quickly.  These are the kids I worry about the most.
  2. “I Doubt It”.    The next kind of response I get is the doubtful one.  These kids would like to be in on the conversation, but they suspect that I am blowing smoke up their drawers.  At least I know I can work with this.
  3. “Not for me”.     I can’t be sure, but I believe these kids are too busy spending their parents’ money, frankly.   They are often the ones who have no responsibilities to anyone but themselves. These kids are going to have a hard time when they become adults and they find themselves without the basic skills they need to survive.
  4. “Yeah! When can we talk about this?  Let’s talk NOW!!”    To most people’s surprise, this is the MOST COMMON response, by far.

The whole trick here is to open your teen up to the idea of setting a goal, say $2M net worth by age 50, WITHOUT worrying about the HOW part.  Once a decision has been made, “how” becomes interesting (more on this later).  It’s the deciding part of it that is the HOT TICKET.

People wonder why teens don’t seem to care about money.  Consider this:  If they don’t have a goal, why would they be interested? Steven Bahls discusses the notion that college graduates aren’t prepared for the working world because they lack these basic skills. Something to think about.

© WealthQuest for Teens, Ltd., 2011 All rights reserved worldwide.



  1. Louise Mirkin says:

    Very good analysis of teens and their level of interest. I am impressed with what this program offers and wish it had been available to me when I was a teenager.

  2. Thanks, Louise, for your comment. I wish I had been exposed to this education when I was young, too!

  3. Fanastic work! What a need for this!

  4. So innovative and valuable!!! Thank you for your commitment to empowering our future generation!

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