Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Bank of Mom

Ever feel like an ATM machine?  Yeah...me too.  And the next few weeks are going to get SO much worse.
I'll start with the boy.  A week from Saturday is prom. At least he didn't wait til the last minute to ask someone but still, it is NOT a cheap night. Tickets=$120 (pair). Tux=$130(and that was with a $40 coupon). Bus=$30@ (his date is buying those...bless her heart). Corsage=$30.  That's the MUSTS.  I'm sure I'll be nickeled and dimed the week before.  We agreed to split the cost of his expenses.  Then there was the second ACT test with the writing portion=$48 PLUS $10x3 for the three additional reporting fees to scholarship programs.   And while we have sent his ACT scores to desired colleges, those colleges will require an application with a $35-50 fee...x4. This summer, we have senior pictures which I believe will be a MINIMUM of $400.  Those are the expenses I KNOW about.  I'm afraid to think about the ones I don't know about.
Then there is my oldest daughter.  The 15 year old.  Yes...that means Drivers Ed this summer=$340.  Plus her dance workshop=$45 (which is actually CHEAP), the overnight dance camp=$300 (maybe less, depends on the result of fund raising).  Doesn't sound like THAT much but I happen to know that come fall, I will have TONS of dance line (school) related expenses.  She'll HAVE to have a new warm up suit as they changed the style this year and last year's she will not be able to wear except as scrubs.  And new shoes, one in nude, one in black.  And I'm sure there'll be other accessories.  
Next is the middle daughter.  We're sending her to a YMCA camp this year for 5 days.  That's $525.  Then there is basketball camp=$65.  And softball=$97. 
Finally there's Beanie.  She will be participating in a swim camp to improve her stroke technique=$185.  And softball=$97.  And dance camp=$100.  And FROG (church) camp=$50.  We're still debating basketball camp.
Can you say cha-CHING?
So, my husband and I are, AGAIN (this is an ongoing experiment), attempting to find a way for them to help out around the house to off set some of the costs and learn how to manage money.  My oldest daughter...can't keep a dime in her pocket that she doesn't spend it and this actually scares me.  So, here is the plan:  starting May 1, the younger two will be receiving weekly allowances but I will have debit accounts set up for the older two.  They will be paid 2x/month based on chores they have chosen (I have a list) to do.  From their accounts they have to pay for ANYTHING they want.  I'll make sure they have their summer basics, but beyond that, they'll have to buy it.  Movies?  Their account.  Caribou? cha-Ching.  Birthday gifts?  Their responsibility. OK...you get the picture.  Now, my goal here is two fold.  One is to teach them to not just budget, but to figure out what is a "want" and what is a "need".  And the second is that I want them to find a way to save (by save...I mean save for the future, not for next week).  But I think there needs to be some incentive.  So, I have agreed to match any amount of money they choose to transfer to their savings, with the understanding that once it is in their savings, it is no longer "touchable".  They want to save for some expensive piece of electronics (Itouch) or a ridiculous piece of apparel (yes, that would be the "Miss Me" jeans), then it is on THEM.  No help from this front.  The other key to this will be payment on chores performed.  They don't do them, they don't get paid.  This is how the real world works (or should).  Our house is NOT a welfare state.  Hopefully an added benefit that will shake out of this will  be that the older two learn how to prioritize and time management, two skills that BOTH are lacking and BOTH will need in the not too distant future.
We'll see how the great experiment plays out.  I am determined to make it work.  And really (no REALLY) not for my benefit but for theirs.  Fingers crossed.

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