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?