Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Learning the value of a dollar! September 3, 2010

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Like any parent, I like to think we teach our Men-Children (that’s plural for Man-Child) lessons for life from time to time.   Naturally, some of those lessons relate to finances, and the desire to teach them the value of money, how to earn it, how to save it, and how to spend it wisely.

Until recently, our boys had to pay for their own credit on their mobile phones, in order to provide them some sense of value (and how quickly you can burn $ on one)!  Naturally, they did not often have credit, as they chose to spend their pocket-money on other things – namely food (the key to a teenagers heart).  I really should have shares in Maccas!  With the recent demise of their mobile phones, I decided it was time for us to partially fund their spend.

So we sat down and commenced negotiations.  What exactly would we fund, and what would they fund?  And what were the best deals to get?  Would we opt for a two-year contract, or stick with pre-paid?

What was interesting was to see the varied approaches by each Man-Child.  Man-Child I went straight for glamour – yes, it was all about the look of the phone for “Hollywood”.  If he could have an iPhone on the world’s worst plan he would – minor detail!  Man-Child II surprised me in being far more sensible, and had actually done some homework around good value deals online, even looking at call versus text costs – he knew all the hidden pitfalls of mobiles.  I was suitably impressed.

Of course common sense (namely their Mother) won.  I was adamant we stick with pre-paid, principally because boys are likely to lose/have stolen/break mobile phones.   They funded the handset cost out of their bank account savings (so they “invested” something) and we agreed to fund the monthly costs with a small contribution from them each month, so they share the ongoing burden (yep, get used to it guys).

For now we are persisting with re-charging every month – as painful as it is, it gives them a sense of the ongoing money drain that auto-payment doesn’t deliver when it’s Mum’s credit card.

Our next project is the world of part-time jobs – the boys will be able to apply for jobs by December, so that should be a very interesting exercise and learning experience for all of us.  Of course if any of my readers would like to offer a couple of likeable Men-Children employment at year-end, please let me know.  They come with glowing references.  LOL!

 

Mother of a man-child: Pocket Money – it’s never enough is it? June 4, 2010

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The debate about pocket-money has probably raged in households for centuries.  It’s a bit like wages – it seems the more you earn the more you spend, and then the more you need and so the vicious cycle begins, for the balance of our working lives.

In the house of the Man-Child and Teen-Child, pocket-money has been paid for some years now.  We only started paying them pocket-money when they realised what the concept was about, and from an early age encouraged them to spend a little each week and save a little each week, for a rainy day, or for special something.

Based on what our friends pay their kids, we seem to have managed to minimise the pocket-money we pay quite well, always lagging in our generosity (not intentionally I have to say).  Interestingly every time a raise was sought, it was Man-Child who went into negotiation mode, invariably securing himself (and by default) his twin brother a small financial victory and windfall.

Of course when they were little, the point system seemed to work quite well, with scores for chores done, and bonus points/earnings for any extras.  As they got older, and life got busier, their list of chores seems to have diminished (I’m so desperate it’s now enough to make a bed daily and keep a room tidy) but the pressure on the rate of pay remains.

For those who haven’t yet endured the receiving end of a negotiation, here are some key points/techniques that will be used to secure increased parental funding:

  • Peer pressure is often used to good effect, eg. our friends all get WAY more than we do (insert massive number at least double what they “earn”)
  • Friend X just has to ask for money and he always gets some.  One day his Mum drove to school at lunchtime and gave him $50 for tuckshop.  (Note, I find the behaviour of the parent in this case horrifying – what sort of spoilt kids are they bringing up?)
  • We need more money if we have to pay for our mobiles as well (gee, try using the landline and not sending 500 texts a month and the money might last longer)
  • Mum, can I just have $5 for a drink/lunch ‘cos I’m meeting friends.  Response – why don’t you eat/drink for free at home, then meet your friends?  What happened to your pocket-money anyway?
  • Can I have an advance on next weeks pocket-money (hoping next week you’ll forget and pay them again)!
  • And beware the very, very clever ploy of asking ever so sweetly for some money in front of their friends.  I call this being fleeced.  Nothing like public pressure to ensure Mum comes across as the generous, caring type.

My twins are 14 now – at 14 years and 9 months they can get their first legitimate job (Maccas here they come).  In the meantime they rely on the generosity of us, their parents and our irregular need for odd jobs to be done around the house. Which we will happily pay for, when done well of course. 🙂