The Dreaded “B” Word

In an effort to help my husband and I “see the big picture” better and help my teenager realize that money truly doesn’t grow on trees, I spent most of Friday afternoon and evening with an old software version of Quicken (I didn’t like the new fancier versions) and I set up (gasp!) a budget.  Yep, one in which I set up yearly allotments for everything—food, clothes, even school supplies and dog grooming. And while I think I did a pretty good job, Allison was not happy with it one bit.  Oh, I don’t think I’m going to let her see the whole thing, because she’d get even madder if she saw that other “stupid” things like UTILITIES got more than she did.  (Wait…then again, maybe it would make her turn off more lights and quit taking 30 minute showers, if she thought it would mean more money in her pocket!)  But I did let her know the amount she’s been “allotted” for spring clothes, since she’s been chomping at the bit to go shopping for weeks, and according to her, the amount she’s been given will “barely cover underwear and one pair of shoes” (not true, unless maybe you’re Paris Hilton). 


With her tastes, she is going to have to either learn the joys of bargain hunting or get creative in coming up with ways to earn money.  And, she’s going to have to stop getting upset with what she’s given— because she got so mad about the new budget, she threw papers around my office and clothes all over the front hall.  And as a result,  she now has no one to take her shopping this weekend, anyway!


4 thoughts on “The Dreaded “B” Word”

  1. Uncool mom, you rock! Learning the value of money is so important for our kids. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Did you keep your hair this weekend?
    Good luck with your budget. Keep in mind that it just isn’t that tangible to a teenager. Make it real.
    Gotta few suggestions for you:
    1. Get a map, a phone, a good web browser, your daughter, and a good bribe. Sit down without distractions (just the two of you) and plot out a journey to consignment stores within a five mile radius of your house. Make it a mother/daughter extravaganza, complete with coffee or lemonade or breakfast (or whatever you two can agree on) somewhere in the middle of the search. Hit at least three to five stores. This will take time. I recommend no hurrying. Give her, say, $50 or less. Let her go through the racks by herself. Let her find a good deal that she really likes.She won’t like anything on the first run. Next week, go to her favorite mall. Give her fifty dollars. Let her look. Have that lemonade and be really pleasant. Repeat process periodically. She WILL get hooked, guaranteed. Find a way for her to make fifty dollars. Babysitting, washing cars, mowing the lawn, vacuuming, mending, (NOT cleaning her room.) It has to be HER money, earned with her effort, a.k.a. blood, sweat and tears. Give her an extra $25. So now she has $75 to spend (have an occasion to shop for, like a dance or a special night out.) Let her pick the stores she goes to. It may take some time, but pretty soon guess which stores she will ask to visit…and then she might also figure out the sale cycles at the mall…it has to be HER idea, not your mandate.
    Now, I had some really huge success by complementing these forays with sewing some stuff at home. We picked out patterns and fabric together, and then she really started to appreciate the value of the work that went into clothing. Eventually she started to compare the difference in quality as well as trend. She decided to learn to sew, and even spent her own money buying a machine, patterns and fabric. She is proud of what she can make herself. She loves to be fashionable, and she loves her sense of identity in doing it.
    I know I got this idea from my mom, who grew up in the Depression. She got it from her great-grandma, who was an immigrant to this country. It’s the good old-fashioned American way.
    I think it worked.
    Guess what…she will start comparison shopping…she will do the math…and when she realizes she can buy what she really likes for three nights of running after the neighbor’s toddlers (at the mall) or she can buy one or two outfits on one night’s pay, if she shops savvy. It has to be her choices, so if it is a “different look”, just let it be.
    While making these shopping runs a treat for the two of you, you can actually engage in female type conversation. There are these hormonal days that you just have to endure together.

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