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Financial Responsibility Lessons for Pre-College Young Adults

This post was created in partnership with American Express.

Managing Money When I Was Young

When I was a senior in high school, my mother gave me access to a savings account that she had held onto for my entire life. It had every dollar she received for me in gifts during birthday parties, holidays, and from religious events.

American Express Additional Card Member Teen

I think the total sum equaled around $10,000. She told me that since I was 18, technically, the money was now mine. I felt like such an adult! I swore to her that I would take care of the funds – just as she did for nearly 20 years.

You know where this story is going, right? The entire account was depleted before I officially graduated.

What did I spend it on? Coach bags, cheeseburgers, and movie popcorn. Actually, I couldn’t tell you what I truly spent it on.

It was a long time ago and I didn’t make any sound investments – it was all just nonsense purchases. All I know is that I utterly wasted every last dollar and my mother couldn’t believe how fast I went through it. I wish I was taught financial responsibility.

To be clear, I didn’t come from money. I am a First-Generation American from a hard-working family. I know what it’s like to work hard for your money, both from back then and from what I do now.

Sure, I have so much more experience and perspective at 40, but at 18? Not so much. The importance of teaching young adults about financial responsibility is just so vitally important.

Really, it’s one of the money beneficial conversations and lessons you could ever give. If you don’t teach your children financial responsibility, how can you expect them to act wisely when given access to money for the first time?

Teaching My Kids Financial Responsibility

I’m a mother of 3 young children, but they are getting older with every passing day. It’s truly going by faster than I can imagine. Natalie is 13, Liam is 10, and Caleb is 5.

Now that my daughter is a teenager herself, I thought that it was about time to start talking about money and figuring out how we can get Natalie to have better spending habits than I had at an early age.

There are so many things to teach them, but perhaps one of the best would be to always try their best to spend wisely. Don’t just throw it away on junk and frivolous things.

I know that’s tough for young children, but even at an early age, you’d be surprised how well they can figure out what’s a good purchase and what isn’t.

I think it’s also important to really help them to understand how much things actually cost and how difficult it is to actually make the money you use to buy things.

Finally, it’s really important for them to understand what a budget is. How much money do they have, how much do they make (allowance, gifts, etc.), and how much they should be saving, spending, and investing. This all boils down to showing them financial responsibility.

Adding An Additional Card Member With American Express

While there are literally hundreds of different ways to teach your kids financial responsibility, we tried to narrow it down to a few lessons, methods, and tools that worked best for us. One of the best tools we found was adding Natalie as an American Express Additional Card Member.

We just love this option and perhaps the main reason is it allows me to set alerts and monthly allowance while helping me to track all of my daughter’s spending. Charges for each Additional Card Member are separated on your monthly statement for easy expense tracking.

She also loves not having to carry around cash and having the flexibility and freedom to budget and spend as she sees fit. Taking inventory of her spending and matching it to our set budgets has actually become a fun family exercise. Even Liam and Caleb get in on the action!! LOL!

Safety and Protection

Each Additional Card has its own account number so if it’s lost or stolen, you only need to replace that Card!! This level of control and maintenance really puts my mind at ease and gives me true peace of mind!

I can let Natalie use her Additional Card with confidence knowing I won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges. If her Additional Card is lost or stolen, or I see a charge that I think is fraudulent, I can just give Amex a call.


Mom is also benefiting from Natalie being an Additional Card Member, too! While we’re teaching her responsible spending habits, the family is earning rewards on her purchases. Yes, you heard me correctly!

You can earn rewards on purchases made by your Additional Card Members the same way you do on your own purchases. So, instead of giving your child a cash allowance, you can consider adjusting their credit balances each week.

That’s amazing, right? Who doesn’t love getting rewarded for their purchases??

Building Credit History

Once your child turns 18 an Additional Card can help them to start building credit. Perhaps one of the most important benefits of having a child as an Additional Card Member is building their credit history and profile.

Your credit history and score is vital in today’s world. Credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages are just some of the important purchases you get good credit for.

It’s just so important, and the sooner your child starts to build up that history and records, the better off he or she will be.

When talking to your kids about financial responsibility and how important it is to them both now and in the future, use all the tools and methods you can think of.

Tackle the issue from every angle, but make it as easy for you and for them to not understand what goes into being financially responsible. It can really be overwhelming, but it’s so vital.

Learn more about how to add your teen to your account as an Additional Card Member here:

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Teaching Teens Financial Responsibility

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