I am a relatively new step mom to a 16 year old boy. He lives with us full time. He sees his mom about once a month and on school breaks, but they live 5 hours away. So it’s a lot of driving to make that happen. He’s a pretty good kid. Respectful, smart, funny. But he doesn’t have a clue about money. He isn’t very social, so he doesn’t go out with friends a lot. He is more comfortable around adults than kids his own age. (Likely the result of being around his dad and all of his dad’s friends all the time.) I’ve been trying to figure out how to get him to understand money, budgeting, etc. and we were discussing it over dinner Friday night with some friends. They don’t have kids, but she told us what her parents did for her and I am so excited to start this with him. Her parents gave her a checking account and a fairly large allowance. But she was required to pay for EVERYTHING out of this money. Lunch, clothes, football games, etc.
Saturday morning, I got out my computer and my mint.com account and started trying to figure out what we were spending that could be handed over. School lunch, cell phone, gym membership (just for him, I don’t go…) meals out, the snack food that we buy just for him, cases of gatorade, haircuts, etc. I was blown away with how much this costs. And this is before we start paying for car insurance! So we have broached this subject with him. I gave him a spreadsheet with all of the things I can think of that we buy specifically for him. He is supposed to make a budget and come back with how much money he thinks he needs. We will come up with a reasonable amount and open a checking account for him. He will get deposits every two weeks when I get paid. That way he can set up time to pay bills, save for certain things, etc. We will monitor his accounts to make sure he is making wise choices, but if he runs out of money for school lunch, then he will go without. Or if he doesn’t have any money for snack foods, he will go without (you can tell the boy eats a lot…)
The hardest part in sticking to this plan is going to be keeping my hubby from buying him things. And making sure we separate his things when shopping for groceries, etc. I’m not sure how he is going to react to this new responsibility/freedom, but we will see. I will post updates about his progress and our tenacity.