Excerpt from the Fall 1997 Mack­ey Advi­sors Newsletter

As a par­ent, Fall used to be one of my least favorite times. School starts, and the mon­ey rolls out. Fees, sup­plies, tuition, new shoes… the list seems nev­er end­ing. I am often torn by how much is too much. I mean, I wouldn’t pay $100 (or more) for a pair of ten­nis shoes for myself, but for a teenag­er, it seems to be the sta­tus quo.

As many of you know, I have one daugh­ter, Sarah, who is now 14. For many years, Sarah and I had a very tra­di­tion­al rela­tion­ship around mon­ey. She asked, and I decid­ed. If the answer was no, she begged. If that didn’t work, she would try guilt. About half the time, the beg­ging or guilt would change my no to a yes.

My daugh­ter was an impulse spender. Today’s fad was often soon a grow­ing pile on the floor. I found it frus­trat­ing that I would buy her things that didn’t get used at all, or worn once. I would ask, “Why did you ask me to buy this?” The answer, “I thought it would make you hap­py, mom!” I nev­er con­vinced her, that see­ing her mod­el some­thing in the dress­ing room wasn’t my idea of hap­pi­ness. I want­ed more. I want­ed her to wear the clothes I bought!

About 18 months ago, I final­ly did what I had been threat­en­ing to do for some­time. I put Sarah on a bud­get. Not just a bud­get for enter­tain­ment and extras, a bud­get for every­thing. Using my Quick­en data, I deter­mined how much I was spend­ing on Sarah’s clothes, enter­tain­ment, and school lunch­es. I added it up and gave her a month­ly check. She opened her own check­ing account and got her own deb­it card.

At first she strug­gled. And boy, did I feel guilty! What kind of moth­er would ask a 13 year old to man­age her spend­ing for a month on her own?

I helped her set a bud­get and showed her how to bal­ance her own check­ing account. After a few months, it was clear she could man­age. She has nev­er been over­drawn and nev­er had to come to me for extra mon­ey. Last month she began sav­ing 15% of her month­ly income for the future. I was so pleased that she came to this con­clu­sion on her own.

Recent­ly some­one at the office asked Sarah if she enjoyed back to school shop­ping. Her answer, “Well, I used to, but now it costs too much!”

Mon­ey is a choice for us all. Are you teach­ing your chil­dren to make good choic­es about mon­ey? Will they know how to bud­get their wants and needs when they are on their own?