Ben has been delivering papers in our neighborhood since he was just a week or so shy of 11. ( He makes more money than I do!) Since the beginning, we set a guideline for Ben about how he could use it: save, spend and give. When he’s wanted to purchase something big (an iPod Touch last spring), we debated back and forth: is this is saving money? his spending money? I guess we did half of our job: we set up the categories, but not the parameters!
Well, three categories had worked well when Ben was younger, but I do want to prepare Ben for when he has to manage more money --- and more expenses.
Enter WealthQuest For Teens. This is a comprehensive program that aims to develop healthy thinking about money and healthy habits about its use. A WealthQuest For Teens subscription is available for a special price of $39.95 (retail price is $50.00). It is designed for 14 to 19 year olds. Although Ben is a little young, he’s also blessed by a steady paycheck, so I decided this could be a good program for him participate in.
There are four parts of WealthQuest:
- A secure link to the online set of seven short videos. Each lasts just about 10 minutes or so. The videos showcase a variety of teens introducing the topics of: introduction, determining net wealth, income, knowledge about money, a money management system, reasons for wealth, financial freedom.
- A student study guide. This is a 30-day PDF booklet to print out. After watching the video, Ben and I went through the book to guide us step-by-step in using the concepts we learned about in the video presentation. Some of the assignments truly last minutes, while others have made us think long and hard (especially questions about our attitudes about money!).
- A parent guidebook. This is a great tool, and I would recommend reading this either before or while your student is going through the program. Not only does the author, Jill Suskind, explain her own financial history and reason for creating this program (she is a high school English teacher by profession), she also explains the programs components, goals and parental role in all of this.
- A link to the recommended online program called MoneyTrail. This program helps kids and teens track allowances and money using the “silo system” recommended in the program (Money Trail is not affiliated with WealthQuest For Teens, from what I can tell).
The goal of WealthQuest is to train teens to develop health habits for money management such as
- Tracking their money;
- Developing healthy habits
- Using the “silo system” to distribute money into different categories (like an envelope budgeting system)
- Reading about money every year
- Engaging in conversations about money with people who can offer expertise and guidance.
- Donating money to worthy causes
- Seeking out other streams of revenue
How The Program Works
Ben and I watched the videos together. Here is a screen shot:
Next to the video (the red arrow with a #1 on it), is an online journal (#2) that corresponds with the content of the video. Students type into the screen with their ideas, thoughts and impressions, and can print them out (answers aren’t saved though). So, although the video only took us 10 or 15 minutes to watch, the time we spent on the journaling might have made each video module last 20 or so minutes.
Ben and I got a little side tracked in watching these as consistently has we had planned, mainly because cross country season started and we got off our routine. The videos certainly held Ben’s interest, so he was willing and interested to watch. You could easily schedule to video module over the course of a week or two.
The next part is the student Basic Seminar QuickStart Guide. This guide takes all the information from the video and feeds it to the teens in little bits over the course of 30 days.
I appreciate that there are lots of different topics in this workbook – everything from setting up your silo system (Here is Ben’s)…
…to thinking about why money is important, what it can (and cannot buy), setting up a plan to read a book about money (she recommends many secular and Christian authors), setting goals, financial freedom. Every topic from the videos is touched on again in the workbook. This is a great place to engage in discussions and share stories about money management with your teen.
The final part is practicing using an online budgeting program, such as MoneyTrail.net. She recommends dividing all income into the following groups: Necessities, Learning, Giving, Financial Freedom, Fun Money (it has to be spent by the end of the month), and Saving for Big Ticket Item. Ben and I really thought this was a good system – a nice graduated step up from save-share-spend budgeting.
My Thoughts and recommendations
I really think that this program has some great, unique gems. I really like the goal of teaching not just money management (meaning budgeting). I like that it includes the goals of talking about attitudes about money, learning about money (as a lifetime habit). This is a great tool to have meaningful discussions.
The author talks about wealth in terms of money. In our family, “wealth” can mean so much more because we seek to live for Jesus Christ. This program has/ is giving us many opportunities to discuss a fuller meaning of wealth. Does the secular nature of the program devalue it? Absolutely not! I think this is a great tool to begin to have conversations and develop habits with teens to encourage and train them to be wise stewards of their financial resources. To add in a Christian aspect of financial stewardship, I will encourage Ben to add some books about written by Christians to his life-long reading list.
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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a subscription to WealthQuest For Teens and its associated, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.