Early in our marriage, my wife and I put ourselves into huge financial trouble from overspending. We ran up debts and then bought more stuff on credit before paying off what we already owed. Our poor choices left us nearly broke. Fortunately, we learned to stop running up debts. We can now use the experience to teach our twelve-year-old son to avoid the same poor choices. We had the perfect opportunity in late 2012.
Wanted new iPod
The battery in our iPod touch burned out, so our son asked us for a new one. He had already researched the costs online. I liked the prices, so we talked. He has already saved up half of the money, and I nearly agreed to let him work for the rest of it so he could buy the iPod. I then remembered that he still owed me some work for the computer we bought just two months before.
Recent new computer
As the new school year started, our son asked us for his own computer. He explained how he would use it for schoolwork first and then play his own games on it without having to download anything onto mine. The more I heard his thoughtful explanation, the more I liked it. It got tough for the three of us to share one computer, so we all discussed the possibility.
He researched computer prices online and found a great laptop for only $320 plus tax. He had half of the money then, so we made an agreement. We would each pay half. He would then mow the lawn for me for $15 each time to pay off the rest of the computer cost. This meant that he owed us 11 times mowing to pay off his debt.
Why he must wait
He asked me for the new iPod while he still owed me five more mowing times. He wanted to use the same plan: pay half and work for half. I told him no, but I explained why. I compared his worked that he owed to a loan and explained how that type of plan put his mother and me into financial trouble. Since he still owed me work, I did not want him “borrowing” more. He would then owe me two debts while paying off only one at a time. He would have to choose which debt to pay and leave the other one open. He would have spent all of his money while extending his debt. My wife agreed.
Our son does not like our decision, but he understands it. As he gets a little older, I will introduce him to interest. The longer he takes to pay, the more he will owe. This will go for owing me work or money. We would prefer that he learns this valuable lesson from us while young than from the real world without a second chance. Raising kids involves teaching them responsibility. We saw this great opportunity to teach our son a valuable life lesson.
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