Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kids Do What You Expect

Recently a friend of mine told how she was going to start giving her teenage son a monthly budget.  He would be given a certain amount of money at the beginning of the month and that money would be all he would get for extra things.  If he blew all his money in the first week, then that would mean he might miss out on something later that month.  She was still going to be providing clothes and other basic necessities for him, it was the extra things his money would be used for.

Some of the people that commented on her post were critical of her plan, saying that is too much for a teenager.

It is too much for a teenager to learn how to budget?  It is too much for a teenager to learn some responsibility in life and the fact that actions do have consequences?

Too many people feel entitled to things in this country, a nice car, a nice home, a phone.... they go through life expecting to be able to get these things whenever they want.

Growing up my parents saved for everything.  They would save until they could buy a car with cash, then they would fix and repair that car over and over again until they finally had to buy another.  I remember when we needed to get a new refrigerator; I went along thinking it would be fun to pick out a new fridge.  Six stores later, as my dad had to check out all the stores to make sure he was getting the best price and I regretted my decision.

When my father was unemployed for several months, my family was still okay.  They had saved for a rainy day, not only monetarily but with a food storage.  My dad was doing everything he could to find another job, even taking the training to become a school bus driver just so that he could provide for our family.   He was a college graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering; a profession he had worked in for over 25 years, when he was forced to take early retirement due to the company having to downsize after a lot of illegal activity from the higher-ups, sort of Enron experience.  But he was going to do whatever it took.

Thankfully he got an engineering job right before it was time to start as a bus driver, as with his temperament that would have been the absolute worst job for him, but he was willing to do whatever it took to provide for our family.

He taught us to be responsible, to help and to give, but most importantly to always work hard.

To my friend who is trying to help her son learn lessons about real life, who is willing to stand by and watch her son maybe miss out on a few things so that he can learn, I applaud you.  Kids are capable of what we expect of them.  If we protect them, hand them all a trophy and say everyone is a winner then they will expect to always win, to always finish first, and when real life catches up with them it is going to be a huge slap in the face.

Kids can do hard things and so can parents.  Parents can do hard things by stepping back and letting them learn, letting them stumble but always with open arms knowing that we will love them no matter what.

Let's stop the coddling, stop the entitlement, stop their beliefs that everything will be handed to them, before it is too late.

Expect your kids to be great because they can do hard things.


  1. I'm totally with you guys here. My dad gave me $20/week as a kid for school lunches. We had open campus lunch so we left and went to McD's etc. I guess that's how I learned to be frugal because I got to keep all the money that was left over from the week so I learned to eat cheap. When I went to college he gave me $20/week. Anything left over I got to keep but I was more one of those that if I had a $20 left over at the end of the week, when he'd go to give me money for the next week I'd tell him no need you keep it. But I totally think it's good to teach responsibility. Not teaching responsibility is what is causing some of the kids coming into the real world now problems because they think they are to have everything and not work for it. Ok I'm long winded, sorry!

  2. Yes, kids can do hard things. We have to set the expectations. I don't think it's unrealistic to have a teenager budget like this. I know that each month, I do have a set amount that I'm able to spend to do things with my boys or buy them things- and when it's gone, it's gone(we don't do credit for anything). Since mine are young, they aren't aware of the specifics of this now, though sometimes one will ask for something or to do something and I'll have to say well, you can, but if you do, you won't be able to (whatever it is that's coming up later in the month that I know he wants to do). I think it's reasonable that once my boys are older, they should manage this themselves. I think it would help prepare them for young adulthood, when a lot start off their after-college life in debt because they immediately buy everything they want on credit.

  3. I love this! Kids who are exposed to these lessons growing up are going to find the real world a lot easier to navigate!

  4. Yes! Exactly! Some kids are going to be in for a rude awakening one day.

  5. I'm sure a lot of it depends on the kid, too. Some 10-year-olds are more responsible than teenagers. And some teenagers will just NEVER get it - they grow into the adults that don't know how to manage money. I think your friend is smart to start doing this now. Better to test and prepare them while they still have the safety net of a home and parents than to send them out into the world without a clue of how to budget and save!

  6. I so agree with this! So many kids are just handed things these days. My parents also saved until they had enough for something. I remember them paying in cash for a new van.

  7. I think this is a great idea to have an allowance for teenagers. I think it is important to instill hard work in our children. I worked from my junior year on and saved for my first car. I think it is so important!