Children, Responsibilities and Cell Phones

Today I called Verizon Wireless, because I was struggling to get my child’s upgrade to go through on their site.  The sweet lady I spoke to suggested I blog about this, because she said it’s not often that a parent does what I’m doing.  I don’t know if this is true, but I’m here to share.

Having had a 15 year career in finance, credit and banking…I take these subjects pretty serious.  I’ve seen how choices can affect so many aspects of someone’s life, including my own.  I was that teen who had a wallet full of credit cards, because I could get approved for them and by the age of 23, I was in debt.  I don’t recall my parents ever sitting down with me to explain a budget or credits and debits and I ultimately taught myself how things worked.   Here’s a glimpse of my story….

At 11 I started babysitting and by 14, I had a job working at a local 7-Eleven making sandwiches in the summer.  My money paid for 1/2 of my school clothes and shoes, plus it paid for things that were’t a necessity like make up and hair care; my parents wouldn’t pay for non necessity items and they believed if I was working I could pay some of my way (yet I still had no clue how to manage money, but I was real good at paying money out)  By the time I was 16 and driving, I had to pay for my own fuel and insurance; if I didn’t pay my way, I didn’t get to use the car-well that and I had to drive my mom wherever she wanted to go because she never got her license.

At 23, like I mentioned, I was in debt.  I had gotten my first credit card at 18 and every store charge card I could get after that.  Debt to me was several hundred dollars and I just kept paying the bills when they came in…it was fun and I felt like an adult.  I was so wrong!  When my father learned I had a $230 bill all he said was “You’re going to ruin your credit, I cannot believe you owe money”  I had no clue what that even meant, but it really sounded horrible!  Fast forwarding through my 20’s, through an engagement and breakup and his adding money to my cards….I was in debt at 26 to the tune of nearly $12k.  How in the world did this even happen?

During the next 6 years, I was literally in debt further than I could handle and I was paying cards to just charge them up more and more.  I was making really bad decisions!  It’s a vicious cycle and one I will NEVER be in again…it’s so scary and so stressful.

By the time I was 32, my credit score was over 800 and I was in debt around $30k.  The worst part….I didn’t make much more per year, than I owed on those cards.  How did that even happen and how did the creditors even let me have limits like I had?  INSANE!!!  But guess what, I was able to purchase my first home as a single female and when I sold that house, the equity and value enabled me to pay off my credit cards 2 years later!  I was pretty lucky, but not everyone is that lucky.

This brings me to why I’m writing…but you needed the back story.

Having not had a parent that was really all that engaged in my financial future and not vested made my lessons really hard.  Sure, my parents saved and planned, but I wasn’t privy to these things.  As parents, I feel it’s our responsibility to give our children the best possible opportunities and knowledge, so when they go into the world alone, they can succeed without financial burdens.  As a parent myself, I do not EVER want my daughter to go through what I did.  If someone had taken the time to sit down with me to explain things and equip me, I’d not have struggled for so many years.

We live in a different time; I didn’t get my first cell phone till I was 18 and even then it was frowned upon.  My child received that first phone at 7.5 years old and we chose to do this because it was technologically necessary for school (advanced education) and because I wanted it for safety.  Several years have gone by with this phone and space is just far too limiting.  School projects, videos, research and more are difficult on a 16gb phone.  So, today we upgraded as a surprise and the new phone is 128gb.  When I was speaking to Verizon, the rep asked me about my child and why we were upgrading…just random conversation “Is it a gift for a birthday or Easter” and I replied “No, I don’t believe in giving gifts because it’s expected or a Holiday.  I have an exceptional kiddo that doesn’t expect this phone and is a super amazing kid”  The conversation continued, the rep was very curious about what we do.

I went on to explain that our child has a chore list and each item completed has a dollar value, well, it’s worth .25.  Our kiddo has an animal and a bank account and this money we pay helps show real world economics.  We do not pay for the animal; it’s not our responsibility yet we provide the vehicle to help cultivate the responsibility…the chores and the bank account.   Homework is first, then chores, and then Minecraft or whatever the craze that day is.  Responsibility before fun.

Here is a glimpse of the chore chart, each item is worth .25

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 12.43.54 PM

I firmly believe children today need to be held accountable, they need guidelines, they need to be taught responsibility, consequence, how to be respectful, and how to appreciate what they have.  I hope that I’m teaching all these things by holding my child accountable for decisions made and by not putting stipulations on gifts or “lifes necessities”

I didn’t think what we were doing as parents was that big of a deal, but I kinda guess it is.  I want to provide knowledge and education in the way I parent.  I want my child to contribute to society with real expectations.  I want my child to know that working hard brings rewards and fulfillment.


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