My oldest son is getting ready to graduate high school. When he was old enough to drive, I paid for his driving lessons (which were over $600) because I wanted to do that for him. However, the deal was if he wanted a car, he had to buy it and be able to afford the insurance to keep it on the road. If he wanted to put gas in that car, he had to buy it. If the car needed repairs, he needed to have some money set aside to be able to take care of said repairs.
As his parent, I have a AAA card for him and I will help him out if there is a huge emergency. The motto in this house is: I’ll help my kids if they help themselves. But I have three teenagers; they are at the most expensive stage in their life. I fully believe in making them get a job if they want to drive, get designer clothes, or drop $300 on highlights and a haircut.
Yes, teenagers have a lot going on as far as school and sports. But by having them get a part-time job and teaching them to manage their money, I am giving them the skills to be financially independent when they move out. Frankly, there’s no way I’m going to be able to help them all pay for rent, bills, or car repairs when they move out. That will be their job. It’s not going to teach them anything if they think I’m their bank.
I started this when they were small. They had chores and an allowance as soon as they could do simple tasks like take care of their laundry, clear their dishes, or help me bring in groceries.
This game gave my children independence and taught them skills. I refused to have them grow up thinking that I would just take care of everything so they could play, watch television, or do homework. I didn’t want them growing up thinking they were entitled to get handed anything they wanted, and that they didn’t have to have a part in maintaining a household.
I watched it give them all confidence, and the feeling that they had a purpose.
Now that they are teenagers, they all know how to do laundry, empty the dishwasher, wash their car, fill up their gas tanks, put out groceries, vacuum, and clean the bathroom.
And because they know hard work pays off at home, they know it pays off in the workplace. They realize if they want something, it takes time and patience to save for it. They are learning you have to work hard, show up on time, and put in a good effort in order to keep your job.
Although I am here to pay for certain things like food, the basics when it comes to clothes and shoes, or a hair trim, they also know I am not going to buy them each a car, keep gas in it, pay for a college education, buy name brand clothes, and pay for everything else they want.
If they thought that, what would be the incentive to work and become financially independent of me?
My daughter finished Driver’s Education and now has a job because she wants a car. Her brother has one (that he paid for) and she wants that same independence. She also loves to shop, so if there’s anything extra she wants (like a huge SHEIN order), she knows it’s up to her to think about how much she wants to take out of her car savings.
Yes, I do still treat my kids to some things. They all still live here, and I enjoy treating them or surprising them at times.
However, I am not a bank. They don’t reach out their hand if they want to go shopping or out to eat with their friends. They have realized I am here to teach them to budget and save, and if they blow all their money on something and come up short when it’s time to gas up, that’s on them.
I’m not looking forward to having them leave. The empty-nest stage is something I’m dreading. But, I know my kids need to prosper and leave the house when they are ready. And when they do, I refuse to pay for their light bill, or make their car payment because they didn’t budget right and just think I’ll be over here waiting to throw money at them.
The goal here is have them be completely financially independent of me when they leave.
Believe me, I am going to be lonely without them. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to be broke too.