money in pocket

How can I help my son be responsible with money?


Q. I don’t know what I should do with my son. He is not responsible with money — I don’t know where it goes — and he often asks me for money, knowing I have savings. How can I get this under control?
— Parent

A. You’re not alone.

This is a common issue for parents who are looking to teach their children more financial responsibility.

You’ve got several strategies you can take on with different levels of restrictiveness, said Nicholas Scheibner, a certified financial planner with Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn.

The “least restrictive” starts with education and awareness, he said.

The first step could be to give your child more tools to help them learn about their own finances, he said.

“Budgeting apps such as `EveryDollar’ and `’ can be a good way for them to track where their money is going,” Scheibner said. “If he uses a credit or debit card for most things, linking his accounts with could help him — and you if he gives you access — see where his spending is really going each month.”

The apps can also help him set goals for himself, such as saving money to buy a car or build up an emergency savings, he said.

Or you could use a “somewhat restrictive” strategy.

Depending on your son’s age, you could set up a custodial or joint account with him, Scheibner said.

“That way, you’d be able to see the transactions on the account, and also have the ability to deposit or withdraw funds,” he said. “If your son is over the custodial age — 21 in New Jersey — however, he would have full access to the money and be able to make withdrawals whenever he’d like.”

A “more restrictive” strategy would involve establishing a savings account, in your name only, earmarked for gifts to your son.

“You can set up an allowance-type system, or account, which is solely controlled by you,” he said. “Gifting your son funds either on a recurring basis or as needed. However, you are limited to gift-tax rules, and may wish to stay under the annual gift-tax exemption limit.”

Finally, the “most restrictive” way. You can set up a trust.

“A trust is a separate entity which allows you to control the use of the funds,” he said. “A trust can be useful for estate planning purposes if you feel your son is not very responsible with money, and if he were to inherit a large amount from your estate.”

By having your primary beneficiary of your estate be a trust, you could direct the distribution of funds per your instructions, Scheibner said.

These instructions are followed by a trustee, which can be an individual or institution. You can even have co-trustees.

“The trustee would then distribute the funds according to your trust document or will,” he said.

Your son could also benefit from a consultation with a financial advisor.

“You can hire a fiduciary advisor on an hourly or retainer basis to speak with your son about his financial goals,” he said. “Several advisory firms also have pro bono hours which they offer throughout the year.”

For more resources, check out the Foundation For Financial Planning.

Email your questions to .

This story was originally published on Sept. 29, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.