Kids And Finances

How Much Should Kids Worry About Your Finances?

finances, teenager finances, money matters

My fifteen year old son said something unexpected to me recently. My family and I are currently on vacation in Florida, and we were walking along a boardwalk, checking out stores and hunting for new adventures. We came upon a zip line that stretched between two towers several hundred feet apart. It looked like a lot of fun to me, so I asked my son if he was interested in doing it with me.

“Dad, it’s kind of expensive.”

He was absolutely correct. For $24, the whole process took a couple of minutes, including the walk up and down the tower stairs. But it looked like fun, and it’s not something you get an opportunity to do everyday so I was willing to pay for both of us to do it. He still shook his head indicating he didn’t want to. At the time, I thought it was his way of gracefully exiting the situation without having to admit that the ride made him a little uncomfortable.

Kid Money

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On our way back to the house we were renting, we noticed a dune buggy track as well as place that had some go carts. After dropping off my wife, we went back and drove the go carts together, and talked of hitting the dune buggy track next. When we arrived, there wasn’t anyone at the ticket office to get us going. Holding $20 in my hand for each of us to get 10 laps around the course, I looked around and couldn’t locate a single employee at the facility even though the sign said it was open.

“That’s OK, Dad, it’s not really worth the money anyway. The track is really small.”

That was twice in one afternoon that my son had told me something wasn’t worth the price. I knew this wasn’t just uncomfortableness talking, as the dune buggies were his idea, and we had just finished driving go carts which he absolutely loves.

My son was actually concerned about the price.

I felt a little conflicted about the situation. One one hand, I was extremely proud of him for evaluating whether something provided an adequate amount of enjoyment for the money charged. On the other hand, I wondered why he was so concerned about price when he wasn’t paying for it. I certainly want my son to respect me when I tell him something is too expensive, but I don’t want him to worry about cost if I make the offer.

What do you think, is my son putting too much on his shoulders worrying about cost, or should I just let it go and be proud of him?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin

10 Comments

  • If he’s anything like my son he’s taking too much on. My excessively thrifty (read: cheap) personality hit home as having a negative impact on his last birthday.

    Money was tight as always but it was his birthday and we asked where he wanted to go have dinner. We placed 0.0 restrictions as I believe you need to celebrate things worth celebrating. He picked a chain he has no loyalty to but knew I had gift cards to use.

    I took him aside and told him he didn’t need to go there and to pick whatever he wanted. He refused to change and we went, but from that point on I have been very careful not to bring up financial concerns around our kids. They can’t do anything about income and don’t need to sweat it. Understand it, yes.

  • That’s pretty cool. I think you need to pry him away a little bit and explain that it’s OK to splurge every now and then, as long as it’s not the norm, it’s within the discretionary budget, and you get an experience you’ll remember from it.

  • I think it’s a good thing that your son is aware of what is worth spending and what is not worth spending.

    You just need to teach him that sometimes, it’s okay to spend on something that you can enjoy and as long as you’re within the budget, it’s just fine to treat yourself and have some fun.

    It’s a good sign that your son is growing financially wise.

  • Your son is wise! By daughter is concern about the price too. Whenever I asked her what she wants because I will buy for her, she just say “Mom, we better save”. I got amazed by her. She wanted her father to be home instead buying her some things.

  • @Daisy – knowing that he’s developing a sense of value and thinking of finances is definitely a good thing. I just hope he doesn’t deny himself a great experience sometime because he’s worried about his parents’ finances unnecessarily!

  • @Dan – that’s a great point….I don’t know if he heard my wife and I talking about finances and he thought he heard something that concerned him and thought he needed to help out by not demanding too much. I’ll certainly have that in the back of my mind from now on..thanks for your thoughts!

  • @MoneyBeagle – I did exactly that…and even explained to him that we definitely had the cash for the activities. That was a weird conversation to have…but I feel like I may need to have it again with him.

  • @Nik – I should certainly be happy that he’s thinking of value instead of simply feeling entitled to anything and everything regardless of cost. As mentioned in my exchange with @moneybeagle, I did have that conversation with him – but I’m going to do it again for re-enforcement. Thanks for stopping by!

  • @Marie- That’s awesome that your daughter wants to save….hopefully she doesn’t take it too far to the extreme – sometimes it’s worth spending the money!

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