Kids And Finances

Opportunity Lost? A Financial Conversation Overheard At The Movies

financial conversation, spending money, budgeting


“How is it I only have $3 left?” I heard a female voice say from behind me while standing in the movie theater concession line.

“Because you buy stuff?” I heard a different voice respond.

I pretended to be just generally looking around the theater’s atrium as I snuck a glance at what appeared to be a mother and daughter. The line was long, so I listened to the conversation continue as I looked straight ahead. The daughter was home from college for the weekend, and was checking her checking account balance online using her cell phone. Their interaction kept bouncing between the checking account balance, and what they were going to purchase once they got to the front of the line.

Eventually the daughter got to the source of her lower than expected account balance. There had been a transaction of $103 at a business that sounded likely to be a bar or restaurant. She admitted to her mother to being familiar with the establishment, but didn’t remember spending $103 there. The conversation then took a surprising twist.

“The date of the transaction is January 28th. Why would I have been there on a Wednesday?” the daughter said.

I just shook my head as my mind went into overdrive with a couple of thoughts:

  • This conversation was overheard on Saturday February 28th. Her statement suggested that she had not looked closely at her checking account transactions for well over a month.
  • Her mother’s level of indifference was staggering. The only thing she suggested was calling the establishment and requesting that they remove the charge.

Had this been my child, I first would have had a serious discussion about how important it is to check your accounts frequently. Between mistakes made by businesses, identity theft, and the sheer difficulty of reconciling account after weeks of activity, I know how important this is. Second, the right way to handle this situation would be to call her bank and dispute the charge. A call to the establishment wouldn’t hurt either, but they likely wouldn’t have remembered anything.

I don’t know the full story, nor will I ever know how this turned out. The conversation I overheard was simply a snapshot of the situation. For all I know, the daughter later remembered the exact details of that $103 charge. But, part of our job as parents is to prepare our kids for life on their own, and to ensure they have the skills they need to be successful once they get there. It didn’t seem to me that this young woman has been taught enough financial skills to be successful once she head out on her own once and for all. Additionally, in my opinion, the mother missed a great opportunity to teach her daughter some very important lessons.


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How would you have reacted as a parent if this was your child?

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About the author

Brock Kernin


  • It’s possible the mother didn’t say anything because she is as inept as her daughter in financial management.

  • Yikes! Yeah, it seems to me that the mom is just as clueless as the daughter. Parents need to teach their kids financial accountability and self-reliance early and often so this kind of conversation doesn’t even need to take place.

  • @Ben – I agree, kids need to learn about financial responsibility before they head out into the real world. At least she’s young enough yet where the mistakes are not that catastrophic……but her time is running short!

  • Unfortunately, there are too many parents who are as paralyzed by the thought of having a conversation about money with their kids as they used to be to have the sex talk. Schools helped with the sex talk, but parents need to figure out the money talk on their own. Most US schools don’t teach students more than how to count coins.

    It’s time for parents to realize that teaching kids about money is as important as helping them learn to read or do math.

  • @Tracie – I couldn’t agree more….if our job as parents are to get our kids ready to be self-supporting, productive members of society, then we HAVE to teach them about finances!

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