Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wings to fly: Finances

How can it be that I'm a mom of a high school student? This seems nearly impossible since I, myself, just graduation from college. And yet, it is reality and I am actually excited to see what lies ahead as my older girls start to spread their wings. At the same time that Hannah goes to high school, Lydia will beginning a journey of her own. Her first school year outside of our home. They are ready and for once, I think I am, too.

When I consider that in four short years our oldest will be entering adulthood, I'm struck by all that still needs to be taught from our end as parents. We decided that the Freshman year we are going to be focusing on teaching our kids to budget, earn, spend, save and give wisely. The truth of the matter is that these things have to be learned through experience and practice with room for error. What a better place to learn that while still at home and early enough to get a firm grasp on it.

I can in no way take credit for this idea. I read it in a book last spring and thought it was brilliant. With some tweaking here's what we are doing:

1. We each made up a budget separately considering all of the out of pocket expenses that she incurs throughout the year beginning in August. Her catagories included: giving- tithe, gifts, clothing- necessities and wants, school- fees, supplies, lunches, sports- uniforms, camp fees, participation fees, game snacks, books, fun money. We encouraged her to research cost and try to think of every single thing that she might need money for and the real price.

2. We went out to lunch and had a "budget meeting" to compare. We had very similar categories and bottom line. After some small adjustments we signed it into agreement.

3. Sean and I are going to provide 80% of her budgeted needs in 2 payments (August 1 and January 1). She will be responsible to work, plan or readjust her budget for the remaining 20%. Each year of high school our provided percent will decrease and her responsibility will increase.

4. Now she is on her own to organize and keep track of where her money goes. We promised ourselves that we won't bail her out if she gets in a pinch. This will be a lot easier for me since at least I know that she has a roof over her head and food on her plate.

We've made it clear that although she has her "own money", we still are the parents and have the right to veto any purchase (specifically inappropriate clothing). Also, she has agreed to spend this money on the things specifically listed in her budget, so there will be no hoarding it back and then announcing a Spring Break trip to Florida. Truly, I wouldn't imagine these things happening. She is very sensible, but sometimes it is good to just get it all out there.

The younger kids have been watching this whole process carefully and are starting to take ownership. Miriam and Betsy are having some friends over for a sleepover next week. They went to the store with me to make out a budget of what they would need for rootbeer floats, crafts, candy, batteries for flashlights. They found some work to earn money and went back a few days later to make their purchases. They didn't even want me to walk with them in the store or help them through the checkout.

Overall, I'm looking forward to no unexpected costs creeping into the family budget, but yet I am also realizing I need to do some planning and extra shifts of my own. We are going to be shelling out a lot of cash here in the near future.


Amy K said...

That sounds like a great plan and similar to what I have read in Raising Money Smart Kids. It's so important for kids to know how to budget and to learn hard lessons about money early. You are wise.

Rochelle said...

My cousin did something similar with her children. It worked very well for their family.