Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lessons in Fiscal Responsibility

Probably the most rewarding and most frustrating job in the whole world is being Mom. Its has to be one of the few things you can do in this world that can take you from the highest of heights to a basket case of tears all in the same hour. My kids are no exception to this.

My sixteen year old, La Princesa, as my husband calls her, truly believes that we live simply to grant her every wish. Mind you...being the only girl, I am sure we have cultivated the Princess factor, but still.

A perfect example is how she recently took money from my not so secret stash. Really? The best part was she didn't tell me and she did it when I was out of town. But I usually know exactly how much is in there and after counting it several times the other morning I knew something was awry. Sure enough Princess had acquired the need for a new hair color, and Mom was easier than her own bank account. So she took what she believed was community money, not sure here. WTF? Really? Yes I am a bit incredulous because I thought I raised her better. Never mind the fact that she has a job! She makes her own money. Stop taking mine!

So I text her and phrase it so there isn't much room for a lie. I didn't ask her if she took money, I asked her how much did she take. Its all in the way you phrase the question. Thankfully she didn't lie (it has happened before) and she told me that she had "borrowed" some for her hair and a cab. However, she was going to give it back as soon as she got paid. Riiiigggghhhttt....and the check is in the mail.

So I decide to check the status of her account and I go to the bank. Because she is a minor we are both on that account so I have access to the information as well as the money. And guess what?  If you were thinking she was BROKE you are right!  The kid had $13 to her name. No small wonder she took my money. And I know that it sounds like I am bitching about the money, but I'm not. It's the principle of taking what is not yours. The feeling of entitlement that she has, that somehow her need for highlights was more pressing than anything I could be saving the money for, which incidentally is for our family vacation this summer. Her boldness at not asking if she could borrow it was startling.

To make matters worse, she has a past due bill for her cell phone (December's bill) and iTunes expenses. How much? Oh the whopping tune of $186 dollars. Of course her bills come out of our account to insure payment since we are the contracted individuals for the phone, but she was hell bent for leather to have an iPhone plan which here in Germany is about 60 euros a month ($79-85). So she negotiated with her dad and agreed to pay us back the monthly bill. Again, not about the money but about teaching children fiscal responsibility. At least that is what I would like to teach her.

I'm not sure I am doing a great job of that at all. Maybe I need to teach her a lesson in wage garnishments. I could go down and just relieve her of the burden of her paycheck, which should be in the account on Thursday. I could teacher her a lesson in repossession and take her phone away. Oh hell! That is funny! She might need life support if I pry that phone away from her. We tried it as punishment, ONCE. Emphasis on the ONCE. Because she HAS NOT gotten near trouble that deep again to provoke the NO CELL PHONE type of punishment.

I just want her to be a responsible adult who pays her bills on time. But then again, look at the lessons our government spending is teaching the world. Spend, spend, and then when the money runs out, spend some more. I would like to think that I set a better example at home.

Considering that January's bills is due in two days, and I still have not seen December's payment- I would have to say that I am not doing so hot with this one. Not so sure how to proceed on this one.

How do you teach a 16 year old to be money wise? How do you teach them to pay their bills on time? Suggestions welcomed.


  1. How do you teach teenagers about money? You don't. You just wait until the bailiffs come to repossess your house.

    Joking aside, my wife and I are having a similar problem with our 14-year old. And I remember not being very money-wise myself in my teens either. I guess that all you can do is teach them how to be streetwise, confident and communicative.

    Greetings from London.

    1. Cubano- I remember not being incredibly money wise at 16 but I too had a bill but at the time it was a land line. I paid it religiously every month because it was something that I had that was mine. My phone, in my room. So I think I had a bit more pride in the ownership of a phone in my room. Times were different then too. Gosh I sound like an old lady! Maybe that is what is lacking, the pride factor.

      I appreciate your comments! :)

      Gracias and saludos de Alemania.

  2. Hey there! Found you through topmommyblogs. :D

    I don't envy you trying to teach teenagers to be financially responsible. My daughter is only 18 months old, so I have a ways to go yet. Fingers crossed for that day though, which is sure to come too fast!

    Come visit me :)

    1. New Mommy- I agree that the time flies by so quickly. I can remember clearly when my little girl was 18 months. It makes me ache for those days when they were cute, and exhaustion was physically chasing her around and not emotionally chasing her around. :) Enjoy your time! Thanks for the comments.

  3. Hmmmm, when I was 16, I remember my parents teaching me how to use Money.....Did I listen???? NEGATIVE!!!
    At 16 you already know EVERYTHING so what could a Parent possibly teach you?

    1. I agree! At this age she knows sooooo much more than I do. LOL If only! I tell her she might as well get her apartment and move since she knows everything because the older she gets the smarter I will become. :)

      The comment that comes to mind that I never understood as a teen:
      "If I only knew then what I know now. How different would my life be?"

      I get it now!

      Thanks for the comments!