This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
** Disclaimer** I know everyone has their own parenting style, and strong feelings about how a child should be raised. I am not the perfect parent, but I am sharing what I did with the hopes that it will help someone else, not to advise anyone on what they should do. We all know our own children the best, and what will work in your situation.
My daughter is not an emotional type. She, like me, is an INTJ. She speaks when she has something she feels is of value to say, and gets very annoyed at idle chit-chat, meaningless drivel, and words that have not been thought about before spoken. Yes, she was a pleasure to parent (said with heavy sarcasm). She rarely acknowledges if she is pleased with something major I have done for her, and if she does, it is a few years after the action. When she does “thank” me, it is more said as an approval than a direct thank you. For example, when she was going through chemo in her mid teens, I didn’t dote over her. I was there if she needed something and asked for it, tried to make life easier for her without being obvious, but also didn’t “do everything” for her. It was hard for me not to over-mother her, but I believed that one of the best things I could do was keep my home running as normal as it could. If she wanted something to eat or drink, and was able to do it herself, she did it herself. No special treatment, breaking curfew or buying special things just because she had cancer. A few years later she told me that was the best thing I could have done. It kept her going, she knew she had something solid to cling to when the effects of the chemo were especially horrible, and gave her a chance to feel normal when everyone else was treating like she was sick.
The latest approval came about how I handled money with her. I didn’t get any lessons as a child about money, other than “Here’s 50 cents, make it last the week” and then we would go to yard sales and the local market that had a
bulk candy store. By Saturday night, my money was gone, I’d have some trinket from a yard sale, and empty bags that had held candy from the bulk store. Saving only happened if I got money for my birthday, my mum would take me to the bank and I’d deposit it in my savings account. In hindsight, I was taught to spend all I had, and only save if I got a windfall, not as a regular behavior. I wanted to do better with my daughter. I’d read about things like ” kids have to have enough money to budget in order to learn how to budget”. As a point of reference, when I was getting 50 cents, a chocolate bar cost 35-40 cents, and my “allowance” went up about the same as chocolate bar inflation.
The summer before she went to high school (she turned 14 that September), I implemented a new allowance system. I feel as a parent it is my responsibility to provide clothing, shelter, food and some comforts to my child, so the system did not make her work for her base allowance. I figured out how much money per year I spent on clothes, school supplies, minimal spending money, toys, and impulse purchases. I divided that amount by 12, and gave her that amount at the beginning of every month. She was not allowed to ask for impulse purchases when we went out anymore. There were things I said I would continue to pay for like school trips, friends birthday presents, horse stuff, and other irregular expenses. She had the option of doing extra work around the house to earn more money, those paid about $5/hour. The first few months, she bought $100 running shoes or other teenage have to haves, but she soon learned that if she did that, she didn’t have any more money for the rest of the month. She started going to outlet or thrift stores instead of the mall, renting videos instead of going to the movies, comparing prices on supplies. Soon, she started having money left at the end of the month, and would save for larger purchases. I stopped giving her money when she started earning more at her part time job than I was giving her.
Now, she is a careful shopper who only spends what is needed. She has no debt. In a conversation she had with me the other day, she was appalled at the amount of money spent by an acquaintance of hers for a prom. She talked about the attitude of consumerism and entitlement and expressed concern that the person wouldn’t do very well on their own with that mentality towards spending and money.
I’ve brought up the topic of saving enough to achieve FI, but she’s not there yet, and knowing her, that’s something she will have to discover for herself (if I leave enough information lying around). I feel that I have at least given her a chance to not end up like so many other sheeple: consuming and spending with no end in sight. I’ve changed the habits passed from parent to child. I’m proud she dares to be different, and if she ever reads this, You’re Welcome.