Dear Dave: My wife and I argue a lot about finances. We’re trying to get more control over our money, and she has been listening to you. That’s helped a lot. She’s also a lot more frugal than I am, and our biggest point of contention right now is how we handle our spending money. Whenever I work overtime at my job, I feel like I should be able to put the overtime pay toward my spending money. What are your thoughts on this?
Dear Josh: No way, dude! You don’t work overtime for your little boy wants. You work overtime, and rake in that extra cash, for the good of your family. That’s the manly thing to do.
Now, that’s not to say you both can’t have a little spending money. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself once in a while if you’re working your tail off. I mean, if I’m working 70 to 80 hours a week, I may give myself a little inexpensive treat in the midst of all that. So my spending money budget should reflect that. But it shouldn’t reflect a sense that I get to play more because I work extra, while the rest of the family suffers.
Sorry, man. I think you knew what I was going to say. Step up, be good to your family first, and then your good times will come. If you haven’t learned it already, you’ll soon discover that those good times are the best ones!
Dear Dave: My daughter is 15, and she’s had jobs around the house and been on commission and the envelope system for years. She’s very good about saving and not spending on silly things. We recently opened a checking account for her, and I was wondering what bills you think we should assign for her to pay on her own?
Dear Suzanne: This sounds a lot like we did with our kids. She’s obviously bright and motivated, so the first thing you do is explain to her the seriousness and responsibility associated with a checking account. The next step is for her to balance the checkbook with you looking over her shoulder. Do this with her for several months, while you keep one on the account, too. After that, I want her to do it alone and show you her work. Her balance should match yours and the one at the bank.
As soon as she demonstrates competency, and you feel comfortable that she can handle things, I want you to start putting her clothing budget in the account. You know, the weirdest thing happened with our girls at this stage. They suddenly started shopping at less expensive stores. It’s amazing when they see that the dollars associated with these purchases can run out. My bet is you’ll see some changes in her value choices.
Just take it step by step, a little at a time. The more they exhibit competence, wisdom, and confidence, the more you can release them.
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