06/03/2014 04:01 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2014

Teaching Teens Money

Don't you just love these Spring days? We might just get a Spring in NYC after all - and we feel like we certainly deserve it after the winter we endured!

It's these gorgeous relaxing days that unwind our minds and open us up to new ideas...or old ideas that are revived with new enthusiasm and support. Our Money Matters sessions for teens is one of Pajama Program's early initiatives. Now in our new, larger Reading Center, this Program has been given new life - and new, very deserving audiences.

Over the years we have heard repeatedly from group home staff and caregivers that one element in these children's lives which isn't addressed is money. Most of us take for granted that parents are the ones who mentor their kids on the subject of money...

But what if there is no parent to do the job?

The teens want to know basics, nothing fancy...

"How and when do I open a checking account?"
"How much do I need to buy a car?"
"I want to live on my own when I'm 18 - how do I do that?"
"How much will I make in this job, or that job?"
"What does it take to get on "The Voice" because then I'll be set."

Since our literacy division is growing by leaps and bounds we have grown our teen programs like Money Matters. Thanks to companies like State Farm who are a current sponsor for Money Matters, we can make our program available to more teens.

We're filling a long-standing need for these children. They start dealing with money issues in their teen years, at which point they are most impressionable to build good or bad habits. Teens without a home, parents or role model do not have the same level and quality of lessons on financial responsibility. They are more likely to end up making poor decisions throughout the rest of their life by not investing in their future and throwing away money.

We can't do it all, but we can provide an introductory, engaging program on the importance of money, including how to save and spend money in a responsible way, and how the general economy works. We can give the Teens a basic understanding of general finance, but in a personalized way that will apply to their lives. Equally important, we can begin to provide role models and friends (our session leaders) who show the Teens they have more people caring for their well-being then they may have thought. .

Our end goal for the participating teens is to take away the lessons from Money Matters and apply it to their own lives so they can be successful and comfortable, financially in life.

These key Lessons include:
• Responsibly saving the money they earn as children and into adulthood
• Responsibly budget and spend money on the staples as well as on the fun stuff
• The types of jobs that exist for them in "the real world"and the importance of not being tempted into short-cuts that they might be exposed to, such as drug dealing
• The payoff of pursuing and paying for higher education instead of only looking for an hourly job after high school
• How the economy works and how money flows through banks, businesses and people
• Opening and maintaining a bank account, paying bills, managing credit cards, investing, taxes, current economy, etc.

A group home staff member who recently accompanied his group of children to a 5-week schedule of our Money Matters Program summed it up:

"The Money Matters program helps our children to better appreciate value, and also build upon skills to better manage money, furthermore assisting us in providing our children with the "tools" they are so deserving of."

Yes, we agree. These children don't have a lot, but they deserve these lessons to help them carve out their future.

Biggest Money Mistakes 20-Somethings Make