Do teenagers understand these days just what a dollar is worth? Well you watch them at the mall, and sometimes you wonder. One way to educate a kid fairly fast is to give him enough cash for a particular need and then stand back and let him manage it – whatever the consequences. I knew a doctor with four daughters who decided to give each one of them an annual clothing allowance starting at the age of twelve. The girls had to budget the money throughout the year for everything they needed. The last child, in fact, celebrated her 12th birthday by busting her budget on an expensive sweater. Well, by the following spring, she was down to shredded socks and frayed dresses. It was difficult for her parents not to intervene. But they had the courage to stand back and let her learn a valuable lesson about money management.
Another parent I knew invited his fifteen year old son to help figure the families income taxes for one year. When the boy got a look at the hidden costs of running a household these days – things like mortgage interest, insurance premiums and car payments – his eyes bulged out. He had no idea that it took that much money to exist before you even started having fun. Anything in abundant supply becomes rather valueless. The sooner kids learn that there’s no such thing in life as having it all, the better.
Dr James Dobson
Founder, Focus on the Family