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Family Matters -- How the Cash Flows

July 3rd, 2008 at 03:20 pm

As mentioned, neither my husband nor my son share in my excitement about saving. They do not have the VISION!

My husband is on disability and does not work (he has mild cerebral palsy). He may baby-sit on occasion (his daughter's 3 boys, his niece's children--lot of family!) for dinner out or a gift card. His income is approximately $9,000 a year. He deposits (by allotment) $500 in our joint account each month for bills, leaving him approximately $250 each month. Out of that $250, he pays for basic cable. (I watch cable, but can and would rather live without it. He would just as soon dive in front of a moving bus before giving up cable.) He also pays for his prepaid cell phone and gas for his car and has a $15 monthly allotment to his personal savings account.

I work full time. I have approxiamtely $455 per paycheck or $900 per month going to various savings and retirement accounts by automatic withdrawals or allotments. I deposit the rest of my net income into our joint account for household bills (about $2500). I withdraw 'allowance' for me and cash for budget items such as groceries, entertainment, household supplies, clothes, and 'the kid'. (about $400 per month, but I split it between paychecks) I write checks or have automatic debits for the rest of our regular household bills which run between $2500 and $2700 a month. We have no debt except our mortgage. I don't have a cell phone, I use dial-up internet at home, I take my lunch to work, I'm trying to carpool to save gas, and I'd love to get rid of cable.

"The kid", my son, makes little to no money, but spends and costs quite a bit. Because he plays basketball for school and they traveled, he didn't work during the school year. He's currently working this summer and I'm helping him with gas (!) and his car repairs for the used Nissan that I bought him for college after he graduated high school. I'm requiring that he budgets for school clothes and shoes, that he keep a cushion of $200 for next year's college spending money and that he begin a Christmas fund (ESPECIALLY if he plans to keep his current girlfriend). In addition, he's to manage his spending money this summer. I even offered to match his savings by 50% by Jul 30. So far...it ain't looking good.

We bank at a credit union. I've managed to build up various savings accounts and retirement accounts over the past several years and I get SO excited when things are going well and SO discouraged when I can't seem to make headway. My husband has $23.52 in his personal savings account. This is the account that he has allotted $15 to every month for the past 4 years. (I'll let you do the math.) For 'the kid', I've alloted or transferred $50 out of every paycheck to his account (the one that came with the debit card for college) for the past 10 months plus extra transfers for books, gas and other college expenses. The kid has .02 (yes, that 2 cents) in his checking account. In his savings he has the minimum balance he can have - $5. He's been working for 4 weeks now, though I'm concerned that he's missed a few days...

Obviously, it's too much to ask for my family to be excited or interested or aligned with any particular money goals, it's too much to ask for some cooperation, some common goal, some teamwork or team spirit within my household. It took me a long time to let this go (and as you may surmise, I'm still a little bitter--oops! maybe I haven't let it go!). But yes, I handle all the paperwork, yes, I handle all the bills, yes, I manage the household finances and yes, I have a lot of one-sided conversations about savings goals and money management. So let me add that I'm SO SO glad I found you folks out there. I need you guys. I need to stay focused and motivated and not let all my hard work be in vain.

New goal: I'm having trouble helping my son deal with the consequences of NOT saving and NOT managing his money, so I want my focus for a little while to be on his 'life-training'. Several of his consequences cost ME money and affect my savings goals. (For instance, he got a speeding ticket he couldn't pay for...yikes! I paid and now we have insurance concerns...)
One thing I've officially decided: I will not purchase any more school clothes or shoes for him and will let him be responsible for those items for the rest of his life. (He has plenty of clothes already, or he can use his own money, or he can go naked or barefoot--his choice.)
Anyone have any other ideas? How do you get your kids to cooperate or help out and be responsible with money? Especially when they're 19 years old and know everything? Am I asking too much or too little? Am I doing too much? Too little? Am I being too selfish about my saving goals?

7 Responses to “Family Matters -- How the Cash Flows”

  1. PauletteGoddard Says:

    I know the feeling of failure trying to get the family excited. Well, the husband doesn't get excited. It's hard for me to get them to remember to turn off lights in rooms they're not using, and to unplug appliances. I wondered if it were some American white male entitlement issue, but then, we'd be saving oh, $0.89 off our electric bill each month? How does one get the family excited about saving $10.68 a year? I can't prod my spouse to open a 401(k), or put money toward a Roth...

    I can answer about the child problem though. I bring my child with me when I deposit money into his accounts, he participates in a school banking program, and I give him his statements. He is good about saving his money, and asks for net worth updates. If your 19-year-old knows everything, and what 19-year-old doesn't, give him some word problems and adopt the position that you're asking him for advice. Give him a flat budget per month based on his expenditure expectations?

  2. anonymouse Says:

    I'm sorry but at 19yrs old he needs to stop taking money from mom. I would stop transferring money to his personal account. If you still want to do something for him pay for some of his school bills. My parents told me that once I turned 18 I had to pay for everything myself. I worked 2 to 3 part-time jobs through college. If your son knows that you will bail him out of speeding tickets then what is his incentive?

  3. kel8585 Says:

    My parents stopped paying for my things once I turned 16 and was able to get a job. I even made my own car payments. My parent did help me out a little with my first year of college and that was it, I was completely cut off. I never asked for money because I knew what the answer would be... no. And I knew it wasn't because they wanted to be mean, they wanted me to be financially independent.
    Maybe you can get him to sign up for a personal finance class at his school if it offers it. I took a family financial management class my second semester during college as an elective and it was really really good because it required us to make a plan and stick to it for a project. That maybe a way to get him to see the big picture. Because of course you could tell him to get a job, however if he doesn't know how to save it defeats the purpose of earning money. But I definitely would cut back on giving him money and paying for things... because then it will have to force him to work and save more. If you really want to give him money you could still set aside the $50 a month, but put it into an account that he doesn't have access to, and once he graduates you can give it to him as a graduation present, hopefully by then he will have some money management skills. Just an idea.

  4. Ima saver Says:

    I started working when I was 12 and paid for all my own clothes and school expenses for the rest of the time I lived at home. I tried to teach my adopted daughter about saving money and paying bills, and she just would not learn. I bought her cars and a new house, but she would never pay the bills. She just borrowed money, charged things and wrote bad checks. I finally had to just say good bye and let her live her life. She calls and writes when she needs money, but I do not give her any, anymore. She will be 39 in Nov. and has yet to learn her lesson.

  5. managinglife Says:

    I truly understand the challenges of raising young men (20 and 16) to be financially independent. We stopped the money train by only paying for their basic needs (food, shelter and education). They must pay for their wants (expensive clothes, shoes, and etc.) at the age of 16. I understand that you feel that you must financially save him from himself. But at what cost to your own financial retirement and life? He would learn a better lesson if he had a real consequence to his actions. My DS#1 had a problem with not paying attention to his debit card use. He was charged a $60 over draft fee which finally got his attention. Slowly cut the purse strings and say no to saving him from financial responsibilities. He will thank you later in his adult life.

  6. gamecock43 Says:

    I understand completely about your family not understanding or being motivated to save money. My fiance is the same way and boy oh boy he keeps me in debt. If he teamed up with me rather than the current 'in one ear out the other' method, boy, we would be rich.

  7. dividing the dime Says:

    Thanks everyone for your encouraging words. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one struggling with my family working WITH me instead of against me. (Which is what it feels like. And all this time I thought I was the only one dealing with this!) And with the kid...I have to stop the money train. Makes sense. I need to gather the strength to stand my ground, because I don't want to go back and forth with him. I feel like I've fed the habit of a money addict and now have to force him into withdrawal. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for the advice, everyone. This is wonderful!

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