Dear Dave: Our son is 16, and he just got his first paycheck. He asked us about the best way to manage it, and we’re not sure what to tell him. Do you have any advice?
Dear Anonymous: Congratulations on a big moment in your son’s life! I’m sure he’s proud, and I’m glad he has parents who want to teach him how to grow into a financially responsible young man.
I think giving is a really big deal at this age. I’d recommend putting 10 percent toward your church or a good, local charity. It’s very important to teach kids about the spiritual and financial benefits of being a giver. The remaining 90 percent you might split evenly between savings and spending in the beginning. You can always go a little heavier on the savings portion if there’s a concrete goal, like college or a car, in mind. The process of thinking ahead and setting goals is always a good exercise, too.
The goal here, in addition to teaching him the value and benefits or work, is to build the muscles of his character. Financially speaking, as parents, we should want our children to grow to be givers, savers and wise, careful spenders. If they become all three of these when they’re young, they won’t be financially irresponsible adults later!
Dear Dave: My mom and dad filed bankruptcy recently and are on a fixed income of $2,200 a month. They gave up their house, and my wife and I helped them find an apartment. We’re also trying to give them other help while they’re getting back on their feet. The problem is, we’re paying off debt and trying to get our own finances in better shape. I think my sister should help out some, too, but I’m not sure how to approach her about this.
Dear Randy: It’s not out of line to ask her to help and then gauge her interest and willingness. I mean, it’s your parents we’re talking about. Still, you can’t force someone to do something they can’t do or simply don’t want to do.
Before you approach your sister, you might try working up a monthly budget on your parents. It doesn’t have to be complicated — just a one-page document showing their situation. Let her see that mom and dad are struggling right now, and suggest that you both chip in a little each month until they’re back on their feet financially.
Don’t point fingers or make accusations, because that will ruin things in a hurry. Family should always try to pull together in times like this, Randy. In most cases, things like this work out fine and family bonds become even stronger.
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