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Teens & Money
Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Teens & Money
My daughter will soon be a junior at BHS. She has very little experience with money management I want to help her learn to manage a weekly allowence that will include her entertainment, snacks, and drug store needs. What are parents of kids this age doing to help their kids learn money management? How much allowance is reasonable for a 16 year old girl? Your thoughts and or ideas very much appreciated. Janet
We had another uproar with our 19-year old (yes, 19!) who just can't live with the limits we want to place on what we are providing in the way of money. OK, we are a fairly affluent family - both of us are lawyers - but we support 4 kids (two in college) plus my husband's exwife and we have a nanny for the youngest, so despite the fact there is a lot of money coming in the door, there is a lot going out, too. The 19 year old in question just finished her freshman year at an extremely expensive school back east. Her older brother goes to a UC school. We told her when she was applying for schools that if she wanted to go to the expensive school, we would pay for tuition, room and board, books but that she would have to earn the money for her personal expenses. She agreed that was perfectly fair. She returned home on May 24 and isn't planning to start working until June 25. Since then we've had two HUGE arguments about money. First, that she wants money for food. We told her we would buy any groceries she wants - just put it on the list - but we weren't going to give her money (what she really wants is money so she can eat out with her friends). She ranted and raved but we held firm. Last night it was gas for her car (yes, she has a car of her own which we pay insurance but the gas is supposed to be her responsibility). Writing this I feel like she is SO spoiled I am embarrassed. She began sobbing and saying that she HAD to be able to drive around and it was SO expensive to buy gas, how could we be so cruel? The other issue was underwear - couldn't we puh-leeze buy her some underwear? I think she chose this on purpose rather than, for example, a pair of jeans, because it sounds so pathetic - how could your parents refuse to buy you underwear? Then she says that all of her friends have internships this summer which will help them with their careers which she knew she couldn't even consider because we were forcing her to work. My husband started to react to this total guilt trip, and suggested that we go over her budget with her. I don't think that's right - it's just a ploy on her part to get us to sign on for paying for something other than what we agreed. I've offered to pay her for babysitting the youngest child (a mere 5 hours of babysitting a week would yield $40 - a good tank of gas plus a pair of underwear every week!) and she semi-agrees but whenever I need her she has other plans. I just feel like we need to hold firm on this - we've made every reasonable concession and she just wants us to maintain a lifestyle for her where she gets everything she wants and doesn't have to work. What is wrong? Is she just a totally spoiled brat? Just immature? Any ideas on what to do other than what we've been doing?
All of a sudden, I started to sound too righteous to myself--as if I resist all this. I can't believe how much money I (and my family) spends on clothes, on "things" and on (gourmet) food. I can feel, and understand, the compulsion to acquire and to spend money. And my teenagers feel conflicted about money as well. I think that they are, on the one hand, grateful for all that they have, but on the other, they have always felt "poor," and, I think, deprived, in comparison to their friends. It pains me that my daughter has stopped hanging around with a group of previously close friends because they always have more disposable money to spend than she does--I start to think we should give her more, or feel inadequate for not having more. But I also believe that learning about limits is probably the most important lesson we all, as humans, have to learn--it's very existential--goes to the heart of basic philosphical, psychological and theological dilemmas--it has to do, ultimately, with our individual mortality and the continued existence of the planet. (So stand firm--it's not about underwear.)
I was speaking to my mother about my daughter and she advised you need to "cut her off" and if she doesn't shape up tell her to leave the house. Like I did you brother. Apparently my younger brother had the same problems - no intentions of working - sleeping in until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Anyway I am taking my mom's advice, as hard as it is, I am "cutting her off" haven't reached the point of asking her to leave.
Consequently we are having the same fights - just the other day she stole $10.00 of her 15 year old brother - which I remember my own brother doing to me - yet another argument ensued about the morality of stealing money - she gave it back in the end. Nevertheless, due to the support from my own mother I am sticking to my plan to "cut her off." Yes I do sometimes feel guilty, but you have to remind yourself and her, that you love her and you will always be there for her, but she has to do her part.
I don't know, but I think its a struggle for teenagers - they want independence, but still cling onto mom and dad - ironically my brother (the one my mother "cut off" and asked to leave) is also complaining about his 18 year old son. He is now wondering what to do and remembers what my parents did to him - looking back with hind sight he agrees they did the right thing.
These are good kids we are talking about - as hard as it my seem if we stick to our plans with patience, your daughter, my daughter and all the other teenagers will come through in the end. Good luck to all of us.
Believe me, I'm not judging you for your spoiled daughter. I think many of us who are in the fortunate position of having $ to do for our children find it difficult to figure out just what the limits of "doing" should be. I have a middle schooler and increasingly I'm beginning to see that I will have to STOP buying him stuff when he ignores my suggestion that he make $ for his "wants" by walking dogs, cutting lawns, weeding, washing cars, and "light" babysitting. Money is coming too easily to him and he's beginning to see us giving him money as his right (sounds like that's where your daughter is). I now see that one of the biggest favors my father did for me was to insist that I pay for more and more of my "wants" starting in 9th grade (we were comfortably middle class but certainly my father worked hard and long hours for that privilege) - at the time I hated him for it when many of my friends had the family credit card to take boutique shopping a! nd! I was counting my babysitting money to see if I could afford to buy something on sale or in a discount store (though I developed a LOVE for bargains). But seeing my son makes me realize that experience really made me appreciate the link between working and having as well as the value of saving and deferred gratification and though its hard, I'm starting to say NO, if you want it you work for it. STAND YOUR GROUND. Karen
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