Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

In Which The Baby Angel Becomes a Registered, Card Carrying Phone Owner

Well, she is a teenager now after all.

Contrary to what some people believe, I have not 'given in to pressure' but rather the Baby Angel has taken control of her own destiny.

For some time now she has exhibited a complete lack of interest or understanding in anything fiscally related. She got pocket money for awhile when she was younger but never asked for it and showed no inclination to save for anything in particular. In truth I guess she had everything she wanted or needed.

When we moved into this house and finances became somewhat tight, the pocket money stopped and she didn't even miss it! Then recently there was a school excursion to the local Subway for lunch (I know, I know, don't start me on the validity of these kind of excursions) and she needed $5.00. I only had $10.00 in my purse and I handed it over reluctantly requesting that she 'bring me the change'. That night after school I asked for the change and was greeted by a sheepish look.

"Well, there's not very much..."
"What do you mean there's not very much? Lunch was supposed to cost $5.00; where's my change?"
"Well, I sort of spent it!"
"You spent it? On what??"
'Well, I bought a sub and a slushy and some cookies for my friends and I to share..."
"COOKIES???? That wasn't part of the deal!" (Mother now starting to steam)
"But I DID share them!!"
"I don't care whether you shared them or not! (Mother now on the boil) How much did they cost?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know?" (Mother now evaporating rapidly into the atmosphere)
"I don't know. I just bought them. I'm sorry Mum."
"How could you not KNOW how much they cost? The prices are on the counter right in front of you....."

It was at this point that I realised my 12 year old daughter had no concept of money.

After a great deal of thought and consideration I came up with a plan. Pocket money was reinstated, with a book to keep track of it, and every week the BA would receive $5.00 for her purse and $5.00 for her school bank book. With the purse money she would be expected to buy treats such as popcorn and drinks at the movies or ice creams at the Mall which, up until this point, I had always funded. The amount we had decided upon was insufficient to expect her to buy clothes and toiletries but it was the beginning of learning that every expenditure has a consequence ie an empty purse.

Of course at Christmas she received some money from overseas and I suggested she bank some of this too, which she did. Before too long she had nearly $100.00 in the bank!!

After her recent trip to Sydney to see her Dad she came up with a plan. If she could save enough money to buy a phone she could also save her pocket money to buy credit! Would I be amenable to this idea?

I was. Firstly, she was about to turn 13 and inevitably her life will start to include trips to town with her friends; movies, that sort of thing. This would entail being out of contact with me or any other responsible adult and therefore a phone would be useful. Prior to this she has always been supervised, transported everywhere by myself or another adult or at someone else's house with access to a landline, thus, I reasoned, a phone was unnecessary. Now there will start to emerge a genuine need.

Secondly, the very fact that she had thought through her 'plan' and committed herself to carrying it out showed a growing maturity and sense of fiscal responsibility. We went to town and gathered literature on contracts and pre-paids, costs and features and she googled sites which reviewed different models.

And so, with the final injection of funds that came about through her birthday money from Grandad......we went to Marion to purchase her new Nokia flip top, 1.3 Mg pixel camera, built in FM radio - mobile phone!!!!!

There's a LOT to be said for delayed gratification. You have never seen such an excited and proud child. I'm pretty proud of her too. Now let's see how she handles the credit thing :-)


HipMomma said...

I don't know how she could not be responsible with a plan like that. She's young, she'll make mistakes. But at least she has you to help her get through them.

Brittany said...

Wow! She's growing up, mom. I hope she does well, with the credit! :)

Christina said...

Yeehaw for BA! I think that sounds like an excellent, very mature plan. Any idea on how to work with a husband with similar spending habits? LOL

Amy Jo said...

I still get excited over a new phone! Congrats to BA on such a mature and responsible plan. Isn't it funny now how getting your first cell phone is almost a rite of passage?

Maggie said...

She is so grown up -- I think I should take a few lessons from her!

maggie, dammit said...

Ohmygosh, I am not ready for this. Not. at. ALL.

Arizaphale said...

Hipmomma: yes, but who will help ME get through them :-D

Christina: near bankruptcy frightened the life out of mine...

amyjo: yes, phones SHOULD be a rite of passage...not a toy for 7 year olds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

maggie dammit: don't worry, you have plenty of time yet

natalie said...

Andi overheard a great conversation one time. Or she was there when several of us where discussing it. A mother received a cell phone call from her child telling her where she (the child) was. THe mother thanked the child for calling and then said, "You have exactly 5 minutes to find a land line to confirm your location." WOWSER! Talk about responsible parenting. If you are really at Emily's house, then she'll have a landline or a mother to confirm your location. I thought that was brilliant!

YEAH for BA on the phone! And yeah to you for being such a great mom!

Karen said...

Good for her! And good for you for devising such a good plan. My guess is that she'll always remember this feeling and that it will carry forward into bigger financial planning.

As much as I hate to admit it, in this day and age I think it does make sense for kids to have phones.

She must be so excited.

Dawn said...

What a great story! You can bet I'm going to come back to you and this post for tips on installing a money plan with my own kids. You're a great mom!!

ps. Anytime a kid learns about delayed gratification, I am one happy citizen.

Dawn said...

I'm going to remember Natalie's point here too!!

carrie said...

That is a very great "spending" plan that you guys instituted...I'm filing it away for future use.

I think BA is going to surprise you and do terrifically with the new phone and credit! And if she doesn't she'll learn very good lessons!

Your American Idol! said...

What an amazingly 21st century rite-of-passage: the first cell phone.

I've got a 6-year old who has somehow caught wind of this concept of "an allowance"; alas, he believes this should be more a benevolent gift than anything he really has to earn.

But we'll get there.