Author Topic: Teenage Backlash -- help!  (Read 24649 times)

TrulyStashin

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Teenage Backlash -- help!
« on: June 11, 2013, 07:53:34 AM »
Long story short . . . I've lived a mostly anti-Mustachian life (though never lavish), trying to give my kids opportunities and fun things every now and then, usually after they've earned it (e.g. make honor roll for the year and you can get the Wii console).  I've been a single mom for 10 years, so it's not like we were living high on the hog but it certainly wasn't mustachian.

I have debt, mostly student loans (law school 2008 - 2011) and with the 2d anniversary of my graduation I had the horrible realization that I was no better off financially now than I was when I was in school.  That anniversary coincided with MMM's Washington Post recent brush with fame and complainypants.

Having seen the light I've made MAJOR changes.  I gave up my expensive parking spot and bike to work; switched my cell phone service; sold my old, unreliable gas guzzler and bought my mom's used Prius; altered our internet service to cut that cost in half.

I've tried to explain to my almost 16 year old son how awful it feels to be in so much debt; how essential it is that I fix it NOW.  I've shown him the numbers.  I've told him that of all the promises I've made, the most important one is that I pay for college (it's about half paid for already; I'd cover the other half).

He doesn't get it and he's really angry that I sold the car he liked and expected to drive for an "emasculating" Prius.  He's pissed that I'm about to switch up his cell phone service.   I've read the articles on converting a spouse to Mustachian ways, but that dynamic doesn't work here because a spouse has an equal stake in the couple's economic future and as an adult, spouse has SOME experience with the Real World.

How do I try and get my teen on board?  How do I manage the backlash (no, I am not giving up)?  Advice please!

brand new stash

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2013, 08:05:44 AM »
When I was a teenager, my parents made a condition of us getting anything that we must first figure out how many hours of work it represented at our summer lifeguarding job.  It might be helpful to show him the numbers and require him to figure out the difference between your old car plus parking space plus gas versus your new prius plus less gas...and then convert that to after tax hours of work at his summer job.

hybrid

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2013, 08:21:04 AM »
I have a 17 year old son and the sad truth is kids are incredibly short-sighted.  If your son is anything like mine then student loan debt is about as real as a unicorn.  I've been in debt before and I know what you are feeling.  But he doesn't know the feeling, and cannot.  I don't have any real answers for you here, other than it's completely natural (however irrational) for him to be pissed that his comfy lifestyle is a little so and he will eventually settle into the new reality.  My guess is you will simply have to ride some choppy waves out.

Our family is about to go through the same thing with the cell phones.  My 25 year old had enjoyed a "free" cell phone for years since it was only $15 to put her on our plan and we just never cared that much about the money, we thought we just helping our fledgling out a bit while she is first starting out.  My 17 year old is just as irrational and perhaps more so than your son, and absolutely nothing economic is real to him yet.  Fun times, without quite so much fun.  They'll adjust, because when we switch to much chaper cell plans the unlimited talk and chat fests will end with it.  The good news being kids are very adaptive and I am certain they'll find the cheap Internet alternatives quickly enough.  Or simply adjust.

jpo

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2013, 09:06:52 AM »
He lives in your house eating your food driving your car.

Maybe he should be getting a job and paying for some of that instead of whining.

stevesteve

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2013, 09:19:15 AM »
I don't have kids so maybe take this with a grain of salt.  I think it's easier to couch this in terms of him growing up and needing to take more responsibilities for what he costs.  That if he wants a phone he can work to pay for it.  I can't really imagine what my reaction would have been if my parents talked about mustachianism and debt.  I don't exactly remember when my mom told me I should get a job--if I was annoyed or whatnot--but working there didn't exactly teach me to save but it did teach me to value the money and understand the tradeoffs made with my purchases.

bogart

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2013, 09:22:21 AM »
Out of curiosity, what are your son's own "long term" goals, recognizing that "long-term" is likely shorter for a not-yet-16-year-old than for us adults.  Does he want to go to college?  Have any idea of a career he's interested in pursuing?  Want to be able to have a car when he graduates high school?  ... ?

Also, just in general is he a happy, well-situated kid, or someone who's struggling to find his place or otherwise fit in?

Spork

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2013, 09:27:53 AM »

slightly off topic... but possibly useful as someone else's 20/20 hindsight...

My wifey sent me these links a week or so ago.  They're present day interviews of the kids of the Tightwad Gazette author (Amy Dacyczyn).  She, too, had backlash (and if you are not familiar with her... she was a serious tightwad.)

One of them (Laura) seriously impressed both myself and my wife in her current views on money.

http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-daughters-interviews.html
http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-interviews-jamie-part-1.html
http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-interviews-jamie-part-2.html
http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-interviews-rebecca.html
http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-interviews-laura.html

hybrid

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2013, 09:33:16 AM »
He lives in your house eating your food driving your car.

Maybe he should be getting a job and paying for some of that instead of whining.

Well of course he should, but you are coming at it from the rational adult instead of irrational teenager perspective, and that's the heart of the issue.  I've been down this road twice now, it's really hard for me to remember that my younger kid isn't even remotely mature about money yet.  The older one, thankfully, inherited much of her father's frugal instinct.

James

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2013, 09:45:32 AM »
I have a 17 year old son and the sad truth is kids are incredibly short-sighted.  If your son is anything like mine then student loan debt is about as real as a unicorn.  I've been in debt before and I know what you are feeling.  But he doesn't know the feeling, and cannot.  I don't have any real answers for you here, other than it's completely natural (however irrational) for him to be pissed that his comfy lifestyle is a little so and he will eventually settle into the new reality.  My guess is you will simply have to ride some choppy waves out.


I second this, and can sympathize with your battle due to my own teenager. Make sure you are talking, but don't lecture and don't go overboard with talking about all the details. Keep saying the same simple and truthful explanation over and over. It will sink in, and it will come back to him in the future when he really needs it. He still may not learn from it, especially in the short term, but then it's on his head and you did your best.


Also, try to make sure he knows you are happy with your decisions. If he thinks you are being negatively affected by the cut backs, or by his wining, that may re-enforce in his mind the negative aspects of the changes. Talk about how happy you are to see the savings build up, and talk about your goals and what you will be able to do in the future. Again, he isn't going to recognize the benefits of these things now, but it will come back to him and start the idea in his head of future benefit from self discipline.

jpo

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2013, 09:56:29 AM »
He lives in your house eating your food driving your car.

Maybe he should be getting a job and paying for some of that instead of whining.

Well of course he should, but you are coming at it from the rational adult instead of irrational teenager perspective, and that's the heart of the issue.  I've been down this road twice now, it's really hard for me to remember that my younger kid isn't even remotely mature about money yet.  The older one, thankfully, inherited much of her father's frugal instinct.
As the rational adult, she is the head of household and has the final say about these things. When the irrational teenager is on his own, he can have the final say in his own house.

I don't have kids though, so that clearly makes me an expert ;-)

TrulyStashin

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2013, 10:00:56 AM »
Great responses, everyone.  Thanks.  I love the idea of just repeating a simple mantra about how good it feels to be in control and also not lecturing.  Also love the idea of having him crunch the numbers to learn how many hours he'd have to work to pay for  ________.  I've been creating a spreadsheet of my ever-reducing/ Mustached expenses and will post the bar charts showing expenses down/ debt down/ savings up so he can SEE the change each month.

His long term goal is to be a military officer.  He wants to go to a public military academy in our state (grades not good enough for Annapolis/ West Point though he's well informed about that possibility).   Overall, he's a good kid and pretty squared away -- joined JROTC last August at the start of his sophomore year in HS  and rocketed up through the ranks, recently promoted to O2 and on company staff for next year. 

While he's focused on that long term goal, he also has teenage short-term desires with none of the adult coping skills to deal with the fact that he will NOT get that Mustang he's been drooling over.  In that sense, he's a typical teen.

Of course I'm the adult and get to make these decisions and he will just have to suck it up but honestly that's not a very productive point because that is a recipe for a home filled with resentment and tension which are not good additions to the already volatile teenage sensibility.   I have to find a way to get some degree of buy-in from him, so please keep the suggestions coming if you have any.

If anyone else has a tactic or idea, I'm still listening.

smedleyb

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2013, 10:01:16 AM »
You need to sell it differently to your son:  "Son, we're not downsizing the car, we're saving the world by cutting back on dirty fossil fuel consumption"; or, "son we're not changing the cell phone plan, we're getting a better one with unlimited text"; and finally, "son, we're not paying for college, YOUR ARE!  So stop complaining like a the little whinny chump and get a job as you figure out which community college you'll be attending.  And BTW, I'm selling the Prius too.  Get a bike!"

But seriously, while my son is younger, I can empathize with your journey (while also admitting that teenagers are much more complex).  We make that journey every day here at chez smedley.  It's tough, but I found that being tough and sticking to your guns is the best policy, especially when it comes to "wants"  and lifestyle issues in general.  I try to teach the kinder to be grateful rather than desirous, thankful as opposed to avaricious.  We (all of us) actually work quite hard at this, but it's getting easier as everyone gets on board for our amazing journey through life together. 

Good luck.     

mlipps

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2013, 10:06:41 AM »
What about a sort of reality check, so to speak? Can you find a way to expose him to people living with much, much less to try to make him appreciate what he has more? This volunteering abroad program is SO inexpensive and has great reviews, I almost did it when I was in college:

http://www.volunteerhq.org/

You could probably pay for a flight for him for free by signing up for one credit card offer, like Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Or, of course, the less elaborate but much cheaper experience of finding a place to volunteer together in your own town.

I'm only 23 and I don't remember ever feeling resentful of my parents for not being able to afford, or choosing not to spend money, on things that other kids had growing up. But, I think a big part of this is that although some people in my town live comfortably, I had many other classmates who had much less than I did. I imagine if you live in a cushy suburban area where everyone or almost everyone is doing pretty well, it might be easier to take things like a "cool" car or a fancy cell phone for granted. Some perspective might help.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2013, 10:09:58 AM »
An additional wrinkle . . . yes, agreed that he should get a job -- he agrees with that too.  He'll be 16 in July and that's on the agenda right now.

However, his school schedule is very demanding with AP & honors classes and multiple ROTC teams and starting August 1st or so, add to that his responsibilities as a member of company staff (he'll be helping to run the whole program -- lots of responsibility).   In the long run, all these things are good and very important but during the school year they are very incompatible with working a part time job.  Certainly anything more demanding than 10 hours a week is a non-starter because he's at school from 7 AM until 5:30 PM every day and then doing hours of homework.  Ten hours a week may not even work because many of his Saturdays are also full of ROTC duties (often starting at 0600, ugh).

So, I can't/ won't push too many expenses onto him as the short-term gain is not worth the long-term loss. 

Thoughts?

TrulyStashin

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2013, 10:14:40 AM »
What about a sort of reality check, so to speak? Can you find a way to expose him to people living with much, much less to try to make him appreciate what he has more? This volunteering abroad program is SO inexpensive and has great reviews, I almost did it when I was in college:

http://www.volunteerhq.org/



Love this!  Also happy about the low cost.  He can pay for part of it out of his earnings.

mlipps

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2013, 10:15:58 AM »
What about a sort of reality check, so to speak? Can you find a way to expose him to people living with much, much less to try to make him appreciate what he has more? This volunteering abroad program is SO inexpensive and has great reviews, I almost did it when I was in college:

http://www.volunteerhq.org/



Love this!  Also happy about the low cost.  He can pay for part of it out of his earnings.

There's an enormous Facebook group here with tons of information, I find that more comforting than selected testimonials on a company website personally.

https://www.facebook.com/ivhqvolunteer?fref=ts

Insanity

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2013, 10:18:13 AM »
I so dread this discussion with our kids that are now 3.5 and 3 months old when the time comes. 

Soon technology will be the driving force in delivery of content and it won't be an option to getting a tablet or new laptop or cell phone.. 

fortunately, the car and college discussion will still be optional.

bogart

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2013, 10:22:04 AM »
What about a military career appeals to your son (a serious question, just trying to understand who he is)? 

Also, what will his attending the state institution you mention cost, and what are plans for paying for it?

Also, how old are you, and what sort of social network do you have to rely on (extended family, faith community, etc.?)?  How if at all will that change when your son starts college and/or moves on to his military career?

samustache

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2013, 11:16:21 AM »
If he's anything like I was, he probably won't appreciate it until much later, there's no use debating. All the logic you can throw at a teen tends to backfire into resentment etc. It takes learning the lesson yourself the hard way sometimes. The best you may be able to do is just not give in and remain consistent even in the face of his tantrums. Showing real love means doing what's best for him even if he resents you for it.

In the meantime, he will be finding skills to do more with less money, growing his bad teenage mustache without even knowing it :)

I should clarify - this means that certain things are not up for discussion. If he doesn't want to drive the Prius, then he drives nothing, simple as that, no argument, no discussion. He WILL stomp away angry and slam the door and sulk. Fine. As a parent your duty is to keep him fed and clothed until 18, everything else is gravy.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2013, 11:25:36 AM by samustache »

Frugal_in_DC

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2013, 11:40:05 AM »
No doubt he's acting out because this is a big change for him.  Sometimes when teenagers are mad at us parents all we can do is listen and try to be empathetic.  One thing I do is comment calmly about how I see my kid react and paraphrase what they say, e.g., "You seem to be very disappointed about driving a Prius instead of [the supposedly manly gas guzzler], and I can understand how such a sudden change would make you angry."  The nice thing about this is that you don't have to agree with them and they feel heard/understood (which is a basic human need).  Hear him out and let him vent, but be sure he treats you with respect.  Explore what it means to him to feel manly and all the ways he can show his masculinity.  Agree up front about how important it is to be respectful of one another during a conversation when people express differences.  Use "I" statements to express your concerns, i.e. "When we had the other car I was very concerned about how much money I had to spend on gas and repairs and about the effect on the environment, and I often felt anxious about not having enough money for things our family needs and I felt terrible about polluting the air."  No one can disagree with how you feel - they may try to invalidate your feelings, but they are yours and they are valid.

One thing that has worked very well with my kids over the years is discussing things in terms of wants or needs.  They may need a car from time to time to get from one place to another, so in that case a basic, safe car is a need and a gas guzzler would be a want.  They may need cell phones for emergencies, so using that logic a basic cell phone with a bare-bones plan can be viewed as a need for emergencies and everything else is a want. 

Now that he's 16 and school is either out or almost out, encourage him to look for a summer job.  If no jobs are available, talk about maybe doing volunteer work.  Helping others or contributing towards a worthy cause can do wonders to help a teenager not mope as much about how "unfair" life is. :)  If he can find a job, then he'll have a greater realization of how much work it takes to earn money.

jrhampt

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2013, 11:41:45 AM »
A Prius is "emasculating?"  Interesting.  Might be time for a talk about the general silliness surrounding masculine stereotypes and the gender neutrality of cars.

StarryC

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2013, 11:50:24 AM »
I understand why people don't want their kids to work in high school.  I worked, and I know I missed out on some opportunities.  If he can work enough in the summer- maybe something seasonal like haying, harvesting fruit- He could get whatever cell phone plan he wants.  Even an expensive $100 a month plan is only a month's full time wages over the course of a year.  Or, for $1000 he could buy a cheap big truck if that's what he wants to drive.  Of course, he'd have to find the money for gas and possibly insurance. 

Also, I think you should remember if it wasn't this stuff, it would be something else.  My parents paid for my car, there weren't yet cell phones to fight over, and I got to spend my wages on soda, clothes, movies, makeup.  I got straight As.  We still fought about curfews, activities, friends, places I could and couldn't go, what was for dinner, siblings, and how to fold laundry.  I think that fighting with your teenager is as inevitable as fighting with your 2-3 year old- both are learning how to differentiate themselves from others while still respecting others' personhood. 

BlueMR2

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2013, 11:52:48 AM »
A Prius is "emasculating?"  Interesting.  Might be time for a talk about the general silliness surrounding masculine stereotypes and the gender neutrality of cars.

In the car culture, the Prius is only for girls and dope smoking hippies.  :-)

On topic, sounds like he's about to find the value of time.  Want money now?  Then you have to get a job.  You won't be able to get a good one.  Income will be low and it will interfere with the ability to train for larger future income...

With a military future, he's in for a HUGE culture shock if thinks *this* is much of a change!  Gonna be a LOT of sad days coming up in his future!  :-O

Jamesqf

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2013, 12:43:14 PM »
I should clarify - this means that certain things are not up for discussion. If he doesn't want to drive the Prius, then he drives nothing, simple as that, no argument, no discussion. He WILL stomp away angry and slam the door and sulk.

+1 for that.  And if he is serious about a military career, he had damned well better learn to deal with it, because he will ALWAYS be taking orders, which aren't up for discussion.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2013, 02:16:46 PM »
I don't have children but I do have nephews and niece... (18, 16 & 15)... All hard headed and delusional at times but still able to learn.

His grandfather and I have spoken at length with the 18 year old but he has it all figured out (of course)... Finally got his first job and like feel of the coin in his pocket.  We've told him that some of the stuff we say will sound mean and might hurt his feelings but that we'd rather do that then to let other people hurt him with their poor treatment or him or advice, etc. He seems to be getting it but it's slow and tedious. He wants to go military too. Plans on getting a 4 year degree and becoming an officer. Problem is that he's signed up to take 2 classes... I explained that 4 year degree doesn't magically happen in four years. LOL

I found what seemed, at least to me, to be a little bit of understanding when we simply broke down ideas and did the math...  The 16 year old wants a car but has no money and no job, yet. I told him how his grandpa told me when I was little that if I wanted money I'd need to go and work for it. (ie: go get a job!)  We talked about what a car entails- it's not just buy and drive. You have to buy fuel, oil, tires, insurance, etc...  He likes big cars so we pulled up numbers for a big car- (I think we used an SUV). I figured instead of doing the math in my head and giving the standard adult answer "no, that's stupid", I would let him come to that conclusion by doing the math with him and showing the work so to speak.

We picked a car he liked,  looked at the mpg, the size of the tank, and the cost of the fuel. (and even mapped places he'd go- like school, work, the mall, the beach, etc.)   It was something like 14mpg and like $80+ to fill it.   Then we looked at what he would probably earn at a minimum wage job and how many hours he'd reasonably be able to work (taking into account his school and football). Then we came up with an estimated net income so that he could see what he would have and what he would need to spend.

After reviewing the numbers he could see that I wasn't using any "grown up" mumbo jumbo to try and trick him. It was just the facts. It came out that he'd essentially spend most of his paychecks just for fuel and not much else.  So, then he asked about more economical cars... It's not a huge break through but it's something.


OP: I think if you sit down and do the math WITH your son he might get a better understanding. Explain to him that you have certain goals and if he wants to maintain his luxurious lifestyle he may do so but he will have to fund it (not you)... Break down the cel phone plan, the car costs, etc. When he sees how much "he costs you" and how much he'd have to work to keep his expected standard of living, he may see the light and be less difficult especially, if he thinks he's going to have to start paying for all of these things with HIS money.


Frankies Girl

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2013, 02:21:38 PM »
He lives in your house eating your food driving your car.

Maybe he should be getting a job and paying for some of that instead of whining.

+1

I'd tell him that he's responsible for paying for his cell phone and "extras" and he'll be paying towards the cost of insurance when he starts driving too... sounds like he's just a little too comfortable and entitled and he needs to understand that you have to work for the things you want. He has to figure that out sooner or later, so get him going on that stuff NOW, and maybe he will appreciate it more when it's something he has to earn.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2013, 02:52:47 PM »
I don't have a teenager yet, so I am not even close to an expert. But, looking back on my teenage years, I remember working one summer in a shelter for victims of domestic violence (I got connected to it through my church), and it really opened my eyes to the blessing of having food, shelter, and clothing. Maybe a extended volunteering gig this summer would help your son see a bigger picture?

Another thought I have, given how busy he is with school and ROTC, is whether you could give him extra allowance for extra contributions he makes to the household? You have a lot more flexible hours than a PT job would. I know that hardly mitigates your expenses, it's just a thought. On that note, maybe helping him prioritize his current allowance would be useful, and even allowing him to put it towards his cell phone bill?

There are some sporadic PT gigs he could pick up too. Does he like kids? Babysitting comes to mind. Or doing odd jobs for people in your community (lawnmowing, snow shoveling, etc.).

We had to make cutbacks in my home when I was in high school, and it was an adjustment, but I carried my dad's budgeting lessons with me to this day. (I just wish my dad had not called student loans "good debt" -- I have a monstrous law school debt load like you do) He will get through this, and doesn't know it now but he'll be more prepared for life because of it. You can do it, mama!

CNM

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2013, 03:32:56 PM »
What about giving him an allowance?  Do you think this would work, at least for the less expensive things like cell phone plans?

lhamo

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2013, 04:27:40 PM »
Since he will be too busy with school and ROTC to work, how about setting some mutually agreeable goals in other areas that combine saving on your part with achievements on his part, and result in some kind of financial payoff that he can put toward things that are important to him?  The benefit of taking this kind of approach is that you are showing him NOW how to work toward long term goals and the importance of controlling spending/impulse purchases in meeting those goals. 

In the case of the car, maybe it would look something like this:

We changed to the Prius to save on gas and insurance.  We used to pay X a month, now we are paying Y.  That is the new reality and it isn't going to change because driving big gas guzzler was STUPID and wasting our money.  However, if we can agree to try to reduce our car use/monthly expenses by biking/walking/carpooling more, I'll split the monthly savings compared to the current budget with you and you can put that savings into your own car fund to get whatever kind of car you want once you can afford it.  So if I budgeted $200 for gas per month and we only spend $100, you'll get $50 at the end of the month to put in your car fund.



DocCyane

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #29 on: June 11, 2013, 04:37:43 PM »
Remember when your parents said something and it was law? And if you smarted back at them and whined you got popped in the mouth?

Yeah... the good ol' days.

samustache

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #30 on: June 11, 2013, 04:47:47 PM »
Quote
So if I budgeted $200 for gas per month and we only spend $100, you'll get $50 at the end of the month to put in your car fund.

uhhhhh. what?

Ok, so many of these posts are just way too touchy feely. You are the parent, you don't answer to your teenage son, nor should there be any expectation that you have to compromise beyond providing the basic necessities. You are the one with wisdom and in the position of authority. There doesn't need to be a debate or discussion where he finally "gets it".

You may have to accept he won't understand or like the new Mustachian you, but he doesn't have a choice. It may be years before he comes around to realizing he was being a putz.

You are right that there is a big difference between convincing your spouse and convincing your child. Only one of them actually needs to be done.

smalllife

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #31 on: June 11, 2013, 05:12:53 PM »
Re: job - refereeing is surprisingly good money and mostly on weekends.   My high school was as packed as his, if not more so, but it can be done.  If you are near the Sportsplex there are probably some good opportunities.  If he wants the fancy cell phone plan, make him pay the extra. 

Otherwise, good luck!

SunshineGirl

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #32 on: June 11, 2013, 06:09:54 PM »
How much do you have in loans and at what interest rate, and how much have you saved for his college? I'm wondering if you should be taking that money and using it to pay off your loans.

I'm sure that would make your son happy. Ha. But I'm not kidding - what are the numbers?

As far as cell phones, BTW, I recently purchased LG smartphones for $22 for my kids and about them enough Tracfone minutes to go until the end of the year using 200 minutes a month, which is what *I* figure they need to contact me. And that's generous. If they need more minutes before the end of the year, they are responsible for buying them. It puts wants and needs in very direct understanding.

Just hang in there. Your financial life is your financial life, and I'm sure your son will appreciate his mom being able to take care of herself financially when she's older and he's raising teenagers of his own. 

sheepstache

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #33 on: June 11, 2013, 06:17:42 PM »
Since he will be too busy with school and ROTC to work, how about setting some mutually agreeable goals in other areas that combine saving on your part with achievements on his part, and result in some kind of financial payoff that he can put toward things that are important to him?  The benefit of taking this kind of approach is that you are showing him NOW how to work toward long term goals and the importance of controlling spending/impulse purchases in meeting those goals. 

In the case of the car, maybe it would look something like this:

We changed to the Prius to save on gas and insurance.  We used to pay X a month, now we are paying Y.  That is the new reality and it isn't going to change because driving big gas guzzler was STUPID and wasting our money.  However, if we can agree to try to reduce our car use/monthly expenses by biking/walking/carpooling more, I'll split the monthly savings compared to the current budget with you and you can put that savings into your own car fund to get whatever kind of car you want once you can afford it.  So if I budgeted $200 for gas per month and we only spend $100, you'll get $50 at the end of the month to put in your car fund.

This was basically what I would have suggested. 

I'm surprised at all the hard-ass reactions about how he's a spoiled kid and should shut up or whatever.  That's not exactly what the OP is dealing with.  He's dealing with someone who has suddenly had the game changed on them.  16-year-olds are children enough that an arbitrary change hits them on the trust level.  Children want a sense of security and continuity.  If your salary at work got cut for no reason you'd be hurt; teenagers feel something like that even more emotionally. 

I think the OP has the right idea in making the facts and figures as clear as possible, via graphs, etc.  Might also be worth mentioning that if you don't get out of debt your kid is just going to have to support you later in life.  Show him some nursing home brochures so he can see what level of income he's going to have to shoot for in his career to support you in the style to which you are accustomed (don't stint; if you're giving him a cushy life now, you deserve one later). 

smedleyb

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #34 on: June 11, 2013, 06:37:31 PM »
Remember when your parents said something and it was law? And if you smarted back at them and whined you got popped in the mouth?

Yeah... the good ol' days.

Or in my son's case, yesterday!

samustache

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #35 on: June 11, 2013, 06:46:46 PM »
This was basically what I would have suggested. 

You would honestly suggest that someone in debt set aside money for their son's car fund because he doesn't want to drive a perfectly good car?? I'm sorry, but that is crazy. I had to drive around one of those ugly 1988 4wd Tercels! I got beaten in a street race by a Ford Tempo! Maybe that incredible hardship is what caused me to be so hard-assed.

It's not "hard assed", it's math. If you have no money, you don't get another car.

I'm not against trying to explain the situation to him in a more delicate way, but that is way different than trying to  compromise to make him happy. It won't help him in the long run, or you.

Rollin

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #36 on: June 11, 2013, 07:37:23 PM »
I have to find a way to get some degree of buy-in from him, so please keep the suggestions coming if you have any.

If anyone else has a tactic or idea, I'm still listening.

I wouldn't set that as a hard a fast outcome.  You are the adult, you have explained it and are responsible for keeping the family financially sound.  Giving in doesn't help him (as you know and stated in earlier posts).  Sticking to your plan will help him (obviously) more than he knows.

Sorry for the abrupt comment, but he doesn't need to buy into it.  He's got other things to consider in meeting what he thinks his "needs" are - yours are likely so far removed from his that it is unrealistic to think he'll have any buy in.

However, your talking with him is helpful.  Remember back to other such disagreements.  Did he finally come around?  They take a lot longer than we think is necessary, but they often "get it" at some point.  I just wouldn't be disappointed if that didn't happen.

bogart

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2013, 08:01:36 PM »
Quote
I'm surprised at all the hard-ass reactions about how he's a spoiled kid and should shut up or whatever.  That's not exactly what the OP is dealing with.  [Sh]e's dealing with someone who has suddenly had the game changed on them.  16-year-olds are children enough that an arbitrary change hits them on the trust level.  Children want a sense of security and continuity.  If your salary at work got cut for no reason you'd be hurt; teenagers feel something like that even more emotionally. 

+1

OP -- I do have further thoughts on this but am hoping you may answer the questions I posed above before I write more on the topic.

totoro

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2013, 08:01:56 PM »
My teens are good with living lower - except my older son likes brand name clothes.  He saves his birthday and xmas money to contribute.  I'm okay with that.  They both have a cell phone but pay for it with their allowance and other money they earn.

I think we don't have push back because they have close relatives in a poor country that we have visited several times.  They have seen what real poverty looks like up close and personal and have put themselves in those shoes. 

The real up-side is that they are both really grateful for what they have and they feel really well off even if our house is more modest than most in the neighbourhood.  They know we do have a lot even if we are not buying the stuff other people are.

They still ask for things, but they accept a no.  They always check and make sure that we can afford what we are buying for them. The thank us a lot for the things they do get including lessons and support for sports activities. 

Could you volunteer with him somehow so he is exposed to the reality that not everyone can afford a car?  The easiest way through might be an example that puts things into a different light.

sheepstache

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2013, 08:50:27 PM »
This was basically what I would have suggested. 

You would honestly suggest that someone in debt set aside money for their son's car fund because he doesn't want to drive a perfectly good car?? I'm sorry, but that is crazy. I had to drive around one of those ugly 1988 4wd Tercels! I got beaten in a street race by a Ford Tempo! Maybe that incredible hardship is what caused me to be so hard-assed.

It's not "hard assed", it's math. If you have no money, you don't get another car.

I'm not against trying to explain the situation to him in a more delicate way, but that is way different than trying to  compromise to make him happy. It won't help him in the long run, or you.

Actually I would have suggested putting the money aside for the kid in a savings account that he could view but wasn't allowed access to.  Or the funds could be for the kid to buy gas for the Prius when he uses it.  Either way you are showing your kid that you are not simply economizing on him but instead that as a member of the household he is benefiting from these changes. 

Unfortunately that dirty word compromise is exactly what you sign up for if you want to be part of a family.  If we want to be hard-assed and mathematical about it, we should tell the OP she should have kept her legs together until she paid off her student debt.  Or hey, getting divorced was probably pretty terrible for her finances, remember the good old days when that didn't happen?  Or something.

People are saying this is different from a spouse because a child doesn't need to be consulted...but on the flip side, a child doesn't have the option to leave.  Again, the problem is not specific expenditures, it is that if you are dependent on someone for all your material needs, that can be frightening, and you need that person to be predictable and reliable.

I was around this age when my parents divorced and my mother explained we would have to cut some household expenditures.  I was on board with this because there was a very obvious event that the belt-tightening was in response to.  She didn't just do a 180 out of nowhere.  Similarly, if the OP had lost her job, I think she would find her son sympathetic.  But it's hard to understand that someone has had a sudden complete change of attitude for no externally-observable reason.  It will take time to get used to.  Remember that if the kid has attitudes towards money and what standard of living is acceptable, it is partly because that is what the OP has taught him.  The kid is not owed a car.  But the kid is owed as much explanation of 'what the hell happened' as he wants.


TrulyStashin

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2013, 09:17:31 PM »
What about a military career appeals to your son (a serious question, just trying to understand who he is)? 

Also, what will his attending the state institution you mention cost, and what are plans for paying for it?

Also, how old are you, and what sort of social network do you have to rely on (extended family, faith community, etc.?)?  How if at all will that change when your son starts college and/or moves on to his military career?

1) He loves the order and discipline.  He loves the clearly defined target (at this stage for him, it is clearly defined - e.g. memorize the color guard command).  He loves the chest candy and uniform, especially the way people react to him when he's in his dress blues.  He loves being part of something hard and elite.  He loves the idea of serving his country, like his Grandfather (at his recent frocking ceremony, my Dad pinned him with the ensign rank that Dad earned in 1965 -- very cool).  On any given day, the ranking of these things might shift but they're all present in what he loves.

2)  He wants to go to Va Military Institute (in-state).  When he was little, we bought the Va PrePaid College plan so all costs except housing are covered for two years.  He also has a 529 fund with about $8k in it which will fund a year in the barracks.  He will pursue a ROTC scholarship to help pay the other two years.  There is also an academic scholarship he'll pursue.  But I will pay the other two years if it comes down to that.  His father has made it clear he won't chip in and son has wavered on whether he'd rather just enlist.  I'll commit to paying the two years that aren't currently funded if it keeps him on the college track -- especially at VMI.   Total cost for one year is currently $22,492.  Cadets must live on post, in barracks.

3) I'm 44 and have an extensive support network of boyfriend/ family/ friends/ faith community.  I'm currently still in the larger-than-necessary suburban house that keeps son in the school district.  When he graduates HS in 2 years, I'll immediately downsize to an urban duplex or small single family within a few miles of work.  I'm already biking into work after parking in a neighborhood on the cusp of downtown (saving $200/ mo on parking/ gym/ tolls!).  I'm also at the start of my legal career and am well placed for consistently higher income over the next couple of years -- not that this is guaranteed, but it's likely.

Tonight I created a comprehensive "car buying & operating cost" worksheet.  He'll spend part of tomorrow job hunting and the rest of it on the phone with my insurance company and mechanic crunching numbers to find out how much it will all cost -- and I included it ALL, right down to titling fees at the DMV then figuring out how many hours he has to work, at minimum wage, to pay for it.  Thanks to the poster, above, who suggested that.

Also, I recently switched to Ting for my cell phone and will be moving him over too.  I'm going to allot him $30/ mo for his cell phone but will make him pay Ting directly out of his account.  If he runs short, that's his problem to fix.

Finally, he gets an "allowance" of $50/ mo but he has to cut 1/2 acre of grass to get that or, in winter, do equivalent other chores (gutter cleanout, firewood, leaves, etc).  I do not give him spending money to go to the movies or whatever -- that has to come out of his $50.

Thanks to all for your input.  It's true that if we weren't clashing over this, it would be something else instead.  Nature of the beast.  It's my job to explain in brief and stand my ground.

bogart

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2013, 09:37:22 AM »
OK.  So on the one hand I don't think it's likely that the military people your DS is around are going to encourage him to reconsider his enthusiasm for gas-guzzling vehicles; as far as I can tell, plenty of members of our military share that perspective and do, indeed, associate "manliness" with big, flashy, and, yes, powerful vehicles.  On the other hand, the military is also an organization that puts value on families and respect (and care) for parents, and you may be able to use that to your advantage.  But -- I don't know who your son's male role models are, but the reality is that you personally are not going to be able to have a "man to man" talk with him to get him to rework his perceptions, and really, it's hardly surprising that a not-quite-16-year-old is concerned about how to "become a man" or that he's getting his sense of what that involves from our larger culture (including some of its bad sides), or the military (which, again, has its good and bad aspects in this regard). 

Where I was going with this -- and really, it's unfortunate for this purpose that you're not living on an isolated woodland plot as a hermit, but what can you do? -- is to figure that to the extent that you can frame what you are doing, the changes you are making, as being ones that will serve your son as he moves into his military career by giving you (not him, you, keep reading...) flexibility and security, maybe it will be easier for him to buy into.  I mean there's him getting into VMI and its costs and certainly that's part of it.  But beyond that, if he is a military man, he is going to be deployed ... you are going to be on your own, and need and should have the financial security and stability to care for yourself while he is out of the country.  You will be (rightfully) worried about his safety -- what mom wouldn't? -- and need to have things "in place" and smoothly operating, with backup resources (i.e. a financial reserve) before that happens.  Right?  Can you buy into this?  Can you present it to him in this way?  Can you talk to someone who's involved with his ROTC about this and whom your son respects and get that someone to discuss this with your son?

Being a teenager is hard, and I totally agree with the others who have posted above that (as you seem to sense) there is some obligation on the part of parents to provide for our kids and that part of what we are providing is a sense of security and stability, including in what our kids can expect from us.  You're making big changes in that regard, and for good reasons -- but truthfully, the need to make those changes comes from bad decisions you (and perhaps others) have made in the past.  Which isn't a huge deal, we all make some bad decisions, it may not have been apparent at the time that they were bad decisions, some may have been out of your control, etc. etc.  But your son has been growing up (and making decisions, consciously and unconsciously) about who he is, and who he will become, and who his friends will be, and all that stuff, based on one understanding of what resources are available to him, and now, all of a sudden, you are pulling those resources away.  And, as noted in the comments above, not because of any sudden and obvious crisis, but "just" because it has dawned on you that what you are doing is not sustainable long-term.  Which, obviously, is an important realization and I don't mean to discourage you (I think what you are doing is great).  But I do get your son's being upset about the changes you are making and I don't think his being upset reflects immaturity (given that he's 15!) whinyness, or lack of character.

Hope this helps.


Worsted Skeins

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #42 on: June 12, 2013, 10:23:12 AM »
I so dread this discussion with our kids that are now 3.5 and 3 months old when the time comes. 

Take heart!  My now College Boy was raised in a frugal household in which we often discussed financial choices.  Basically, the kid was born with a mustache that has only grown more full as he watches how some of his peers accumulate debt.  He is a minimalist who has a generous merit aid scholarship to his college.

Start the conversation now when the kids point to the gum ball machines at the grocery store.  Take them to the library.  When my son was a middle school student, he figured out that he could buy paperbacks at the library's used book sale, read them and then sell them to the used book store for a profit.

Teach those kids to cook and ride bicycles.  Start young.

(Sorry to the original poster for going off track.)

DoubleDown

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #43 on: June 12, 2013, 11:33:49 AM »
Here's what I would do (I have kids). I agree you don't need to get "buy in", but here's structure that helps kids and teenagers. Now that you've already explained to him why you're doing what you're doing, it's time to drop the spreadsheets, further explanations/justification, or anything else to help him get on board. Unless he expresses an interest in learning more, it's counter-productive to try to explain it to him further. Just be sympathetic but firm:

1. If/when your son complains about the cutbacks, tell him you understand that the changes probably seem abrupt, definitely changes the expectations and lifestyle that were previously in place, and you understand that he doesn't like them. To repeat what others are saying, you're not making excuses here or explaining your actions, just telling him you understand they are difficult for him right now.

2. Provide him with a reasonable weekly or monthly allowance to purchase things beyond bare necessities already provided by you (food, shelter, clothing). This will depend on your own budget, but for a 16-18 year old, I'd probably provide around $50 - 75/month so he can go to the movies on occasion, buy a burger with his friends, video game, save up for something he wants, etc. By the way, I'd also mandate that he must save at least 10% of that allowance for the future, and 10% for charitable giving to the cause of his choice.

3. Put any decisions about buying things (cars, phones, going out with friends, dates) strictly as a simple, limited choice: He can either spend his allowance, save up his allowance for larger purchases, or work to earn money for anything not covered by the allowance. He's old enough to earn money either at a structured job, or odd jobs here and there (mowing lawns, washing cars, etc.). If he complains about not being able to afford something he wants, or that he doesn't want to drive a prius, just repeat those choices unemotionally, with no arguing, lecturing, explaining, or negotiating.

hybrid

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2013, 11:59:58 AM »
Here's what I would do (I have kids). I agree you don't need to get "buy in", but here's structure that helps kids and teenagers. Now that you've already explained to him why you're doing what you're doing, it's time to drop the spreadsheets, further explanations/justification, or anything else to help him get on board. Unless he expresses an interest in learning more, it's counter-productive to try to explain it to him further. Just be sympathetic but firm:

1. If/when your son complains about the cutbacks, tell him you understand that the changes probably seem abrupt, definitely changes the expectations and lifestyle that were previously in place, and you understand that he doesn't like them. To repeat what others are saying, you're not making excuses here or explaining your actions, just telling him you understand they are difficult for him right now.

2. Provide him with a reasonable weekly or monthly allowance to purchase things beyond bare necessities already provided by you (food, shelter, clothing). This will depend on your own budget, but for a 16-18 year old, I'd probably provide around $50 - 75/month so he can go to the movies on occasion, buy a burger with his friends, video game, save up for something he wants, etc. By the way, I'd also mandate that he must save at least 10% of that allowance for the future, and 10% for charitable giving to the cause of his choice.

3. Put any decisions about buying things (cars, phones, going out with friends, dates) strictly as a simple, limited choice: He can either spend his allowance, save up his allowance for larger purchases, or work to earn money for anything not covered by the allowance. He's old enough to earn money either at a structured job, or odd jobs here and there (mowing lawns, washing cars, etc.). If he complains about not being able to afford something he wants, or that he doesn't want to drive a prius, just repeat those choices unemotionally, with no arguing, lecturing, explaining, or negotiating.

+1, good advice.

Respectfully, to the folks without kids who are offering stern opinions, the "quit your whining and don't gimme no lip" approach certainly is appealing (and lord knows I've used it in frustration enough), but it really is a lot more complicated communicating effectively with teens (who are constantly probing their boundaries) than adults.  That isn't touchy-feely speak, that's just acknowledging the little $%^&*s can be a real handful sometimes!  ;-)  Signed, often frustrated dad.

randymarsh

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #45 on: June 12, 2013, 01:55:07 PM »
I'm 21 and am still slowly making some Mustachian decisions, so I may have a good perspective on this. I'm also what most people on this forum would call spoiled - insurance (health + car), cellphone, food (at home) is all paid for by parents.

I agree that the "I'm the parent, deal with it." attitude should be avoided if possible. Yes, it's technically true, but it just creates more conflict/resentment (however unwarranted it is!).

Explain how debt really restricts your choices. If you're willing, show him exactly how much your student loans are costing you compared to your monthly take home pay.

I'm someone who will graduate will around 70K student loans. Everything seemed fine until last winter when I realized I was track to be 80-90K in debt if I didn't make changes. Even with "just" 70K, standard repayment is roughly $800 month for 10 years. Right now, $10 of interest accrues everyday on my Parent PLUS loan. Figuring that out and finding this website woke me up to how terrifying that is.

I started a new internship this summer making $1600 and I'm sending a huge chuck to my students loan this summer and it sucks.

SunshineGirl

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #46 on: June 13, 2013, 08:30:01 AM »
FinancialStudent, have you thought about taking a semester or year off to make money and thereby pay less in loans, or pay some back early while you still have the luxury of living at home?

(I have teenagers, and that is a seed I am already planting in them -- that it's OK go to college for a couple years, then take some time off to make money and be sure of what you want to do with your life).

And sorry to get off track with the post!

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2013, 08:48:45 AM »

Tonight I created a comprehensive "car buying & operating cost" worksheet.  He'll spend part of tomorrow job hunting and the rest of it on the phone with my insurance company and mechanic crunching numbers to find out how much it will all cost -- and I included it ALL, right down to titling fees at the DMV then figuring out how many hours he has to work, at minimum wage, to pay for it.  Thanks to the poster, above, who suggested that.

Finally, he gets an "allowance" of $50/ mo but he has to cut 1/2 acre of grass to get that or, in winter, do equivalent other chores (gutter cleanout, firewood, leaves, etc).  I do not give him spending money to go to the movies or whatever -- that has to come out of his $50.

Thanks to all for your input.  It's true that if we weren't clashing over this, it would be something else instead. Nature of the beast.  It's my job to explain in brief and stand my ground.

I agree, that there would probably be something to clash over if it were not money -- and look at how you handled it! I love your plan. It's a good balance of showing that you're listening to his concerns and giving him responsibility.

lhamo

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #48 on: June 13, 2013, 10:08:49 PM »
Quote
So if I budgeted $200 for gas per month and we only spend $100, you'll get $50 at the end of the month to put in your car fund.

uhhhhh. what?

Ok, so many of these posts are just way too touchy feely. You are the parent, you don't answer to your teenage son, nor should there be any expectation that you have to compromise beyond providing the basic necessities. You are the one with wisdom and in the position of authority. There doesn't need to be a debate or discussion where he finally "gets it".

You may have to accept he won't understand or like the new Mustachian you, but he doesn't have a choice. It may be years before he comes around to realizing he was being a putz.

You are right that there is a big difference between convincing your spouse and convincing your child. Only one of them actually needs to be done.

I don't understand why this bothers you so much.  She already made the decision to swtich to the Prius.  But the kid is not happy about that.  Which will likely lead to resentment/passive agressive behavior (my son is only 12, but I can see the tendency already in him) that not only doesn't contribute to the broader goal of further reducing car use and associated expenses, but puts him in a reactionary position that will likely lead to wanting to indulge himself financially once he gets out of the house .  So what I suggested is to give him an incentive that will encourage buy-in/participation in the change of lifestyle, both for the short term AND for the long term.  I'm not saying give him $50 outright.  I'm saying get him invested in/contributing to the effort to bring down expenses overall.  And then reward him for that in a way that shows the value of saving/planning long term for personal goals. 

We used to get a lot of pushback from my son about some of our financial choices.    He goes to school with very wealthy kids and used to come home saying things like "why can't we live in a villa" and "why do all my friends get whatever they want when they ask their parents for us, but you make us save to buy what we want?"  Well, last week he came home from a school trip talking about how ridiculous it was that those parents spoil their kids and buy them a new Iphone/Ipad every week, etc.  How the kids are going to have a totally distorted view of how the world works and be in for a big shock if the parents' money ever runs out (which it is likely to do at the rate they spend).  It was like he'd been reading MMM behind my back or something :)  So I asked him -- which kind of family would you rather live in, theirs or ours.   "Ours, of course!" he said.  "We have everything we need and we don't have to worry about the future."  I was pretty chuffed.

If you want to take the "my way or the highway" approach with your kids, more power to you.  I have seen it turn out in really negative ways, though.  My approach seems to be working for my family so far.  I'll stick with it. 


randymarsh

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Re: Teenage Backlash -- help!
« Reply #49 on: June 14, 2013, 12:34:07 PM »
FinancialStudent, have you thought about taking a semester or year off to make money and thereby pay less in loans, or pay some back early while you still have the luxury of living at home?

I only have 2 semesters left, so I'd rather just finish now on schedule. If I left I don't know if I'd find the motivation to go back.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Like I said, I live at home and have almost no expenses. My degree is in Information Systems and I landed a nice internship this summer that's keeping me on during the school year. A permanent position has been hinted at after graduating and I'd expect to make 40-50K. Living in the midwest and living at home with that salary would make my repayment very manageable.

But if I would have made better decisions, my debt load would have been cut in half. I just want to pay my stupid tax and get it over with!