Do teens need to learn to balance a checkbook?

Once your teen opens a checking account it becomes pretty apparent that she needs to learn how to balance a checkbook. Or does she?

Most of us just don't write many checks anymore. A Federal Reserve study in 2016 showed a sharp decline in check writing over the past decade and a half. In fact, a lot of the activity in a typical checking account is made up of anything but checks (debit card transactions, automatic deposits and withdrawals and the like).

So if we aren't writing checks, are we balancing our check registers in the traditional (old-school-way-that-mom-did-it) sense? A lot of people aren't. Once I thought about it, I realized I wasn't either. I love the time saving features of online banking and personal finance software and I'm even warming up to some of the mobile cash payment apps.

Still, checks aren't going anywhere soon for a number of reasons. That means your teen not only needs to know how to write a check, but understand how and why money flows in and out of her account.

With that in mind my teen worked with a paper and pen register for a good long while before transitioning fully online. But that might not be your approach. However you tackle it, here are some resources to help you get started.

How to balance a checkbook
These instructions from NerdWallet are straightforward and can give your teen an idea of how and why balancing a checking account on a regular (if not monthly) basis is a good idea. The article also links to budgeting apps like You Need a Budget (YNAB) and Mint.

Personal finance software
Even if you still somehow manage your finances on paper (don't worry, it's our secret), your teen won't. Here's a comparison of personal finance software from InvestorJunkie and a few more from nerdwallet).

Start here: The #FinLit Menu for Parents

When my son entered his teens I started to get serious about financial literacy in a way I should have been years before.  The good new...