My oldest son got his driver’s license a little more than a week ago, when he turned seventeen years old. I cried a little that day. Why did I cry? I realized that he’s growing up and he’s growing up fast. I don’t actually even know where the past seventeen years have gone. It dawned on me that in as little as one year he could be out of the house and on his own. I miss him already, and he isn’t even gone yet. Isn’t that silly! We don’t always see eye to eye but I love him madly. Being seventeen means he knows everything, of course. He’s currently in his second long relationship and at times his thoughts are of his future. I was saying the other day to someone that as sad as this is, there is a part of me looking forward to seeing what kind of man, and father, he will be someday. But present day his focus isn’t quite as deep as fatherhood, it’s more along the lines of driving, prom, a job and college.
There’s a common thread between those four topics – money. Or, in some cases as we often say, the lack of it.
As far as prom goes, we bought a gorgeous brand new suit for his last year. If it still fits I will be strongly advocating wearing it again. We can buy a different shirt. His girlfriend mentioned she thought it would be neat if he wore a purple tux. Umm, about the only way that’s happening is if we paint his black suit purple. A tux just isn’t in the budget at this point, especially not a purple one.
As far as driving goes, he himself has said that he’s thinking he will get a job to help cover gas and expenses. Plus he’s going to need to help with the car insurance, because that’s going to go through the roof. I have told him that as long as he’s under the age of eighteen I don’t mind at all if he gets a job as long as he realizes school is still important. He knows it would be unacceptable for his grades to get worse. Not only would I not appreciate that, but the colleges wouldn’t appreciate it either. I have reminded him that junior year (this year, for him) is when colleges will really start looking at his grades.
Speaking of college, as far as college goes, at this point in time I em encouraging him to do everything he can to get the best grades possible. I also encouraged him to consider going back to sports for his senior year. He has a real talent and we’ve always believed there could be scholarship possibilities. Besides that we’ll do what we can to help and after that there are financial aid and student loans. those loans bring us back full circle to a job.
I try to remind my son that jobs are a responsibility. I have tried to explain to him that just because you have a job does not mean you are rich. He’s at the age now where he needs to know how to set up a budget effectively. Yes, eh understands the concept of budgeting. He got that years ago when he had an allowance. But, he isn’t ten anymore and $5 a week just won’t cut it.
The first thing he’s going to have to remember is that what you make is not what you get. Taxes and such are taken out. You need to budget on the money you take home, not what you make before deductions. After understanding what his income is and how to budget it, everything else is related in my opinion. Despite the fact I tease him a little and have to remind him, he does know that money doesn’t grow on trees. He knows that if you manage to get credit you have to be very careful and work to take care of it or it will be ruined permanently. I don’t ever want to see him go through some of the struggles we have been through. I’m hoping he works more on a cash only budget, and saves money for the things he really needs and wants, as well as for his future. I’m also hoping that he can find a job now that he can stay at for a while, perhaps somewhere like the grocery store. It may not be glamorous but they’re frequently understanding of student’s scheduling issues, and many offer things like 401k, which can be wonderful investment tools.
At what age do you think it’s wise to start teaching children how to budget?
Post presented by Genworth Financial