Anyone who has teenage children should be under no illusion that their little darlings are an enormous financial commitment.
Tue, 20 Dec 2005
Copyright © 2000 iafrica.com*, a division of Metropolis*Anyone who has teenage children should be under no illusion that their little darlings are an enormous financial commitment, and I’m not even referring to formidable cost of educating their young minds.I’m talking about the constant demands made on your wallet for their leisure activities and designer habits. Most parents will heartily agree that they sometimes feel like some kind of hybrid ATM: part machine, part human. The bad news is that you might be partly to blame, as how you managed your children’s expectations in their formative years has a direct bearing on how they view their access to cash now.
If you scored an A+ for teaching them money management skills and Economics 101, heated exchanges may be kept at a tolerable level. Sadly, most of us barely scrape a passing grade on our own financial management, let alone passing good skills onto our children.
A financial awakening
Son: “I just went on the internet to check my bank account, I have the grand sum of R30, this is so not OK. I am supposed to be going out with my friends tonight!”
Mom: “Welcome to the real world, this is what happens when you spend money, darling.”
Son: “This is so not fair! I had to buy my own paint ball gun and it costs R60 every week for paint balls. I need more pocket money.”
Mom: “I need a bigger salary. How else is a girl to afford the next pair of designer shoes? But just because my income doesn’t match my spending desires, doesn’t give me the right to march up to my boss and demand more money.”
Son: “But that’s different. It would not hurt you one bit to give me an extra R50 per week.”
Mom: “You need to learn to budget. If you did not waste money on designer labels you would be able to afford the other things.”
Son: “That’s not a waste.”
Son: “So you are prepared to let me sit at home tonight.”
Son: “What can I do to earn the money?”
Mom: “Wash my car for the next four Saturdays.”
Son: “Four? No way! One.”
Mom: “Four, or no deal.”
Son: “This is slave labour!”
Mom: “So is washing your clothes.”
Mexican standoff ensues…
He eventually took the deal with a fair amount of muttering. It was great that she stood her ground, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t get him to see that the demand for more pocket money was unreasonable.
Time for a reality check
Tell them that you are quite happy to fund their lifestyle as long as they agree to fund you when you are old and wrinkly. Let them know that you’ll love living in an extended family environment, playing your Pavarotti discs and holding bridge nights with the local old age home residents. Dreamily muse about hanging out with them and their friends at dinner parties, telling all who will listen what a cute butt your cherub had when he/she was a baby (with 16 photo albums in tow to prove the point). These images should be enough to quench their thirst for things material.
Let them make mistakes
As they get older and go off to college or university they may be fortunate enough to receive a car from you. With this gift comes some major additional expenses such as petrol, insurance, and maintenance. If this is the case I’d strongly suggest that you get your teenager to find a part-time job to fund their new wheels, and let them know that the cost of any accidents will be covered by them. This may encourage them to drive a little more carefully.
Boys vs girls
The bottom line is that if you don’t give your children a budget to work with, you will be bullied into poverty. Teenagers are great sales people, so you need all the help you can get to keep their spending under control, and a monthly budget is an effective way to manage these costs. And while you are on the subject of budgets, do one for yourself too!