My husband and I live on a budget and are getting out of debt. Our daughter is in high school, and we've been teaching her about your plan. Is it realistic to expect a 16-year-old with a part-time job and a hand-me-down car to make and live on a budget?
Anyone who has an income can make and live off a budget. Your daughter is at a great time in her life to learn how to prioritize spending, saving and giving — and making her money behave!
Even in her situation, when she's still living at home with you guys, there are plenty of things she can include in a budget. Think about it: She needs gas for the car, basic maintenance and insurance ... things like that. She'll also want a little spending money, and she might even have ideas of going to college. So sit down with her and show her how to make out a budget to figure out the upcoming month's expenses before the month begins. Make sure she knows how to properly balance and reconcile her bank account, too.
Of course, at this point it's still your responsibility as parents to provide her with the basic necessities. But I love your attitude and your willingness to teach her how to handle money intelligently. The sooner she learns some basic money management principles, the sooner she'll be able to handle her finances in the real world responsibly.
Saving is doing something
I know you're all about getting out of debt, and I agree with your stance on that. I started college last month, and scholarships and Pell Grants will pay for everything. But is saving money really that important if you're young and have a good income? What good does money do you if you don't use it for something?
Congrats on beginning college! I'm glad, too, that you understand how I feel about debt. But it worries me that you seem to think that you're not doing anything with your money when you save. Saving money is one of the most important things you can do with your money, because when you save you're planning for the future and the unexpected.
Retirement may seem long way off right now, but think for a second how it would feel to have worked your entire life only to end up broke at age 65. If that thought doesn't scare you, it should. Have you ever seen someone that age, or older, wrangling shopping carts in the rain or flipping burgers at a fast food joint? In most cases, it's not because they love the job and being around people. They're doing it because they have to, because they failed to plan for the future and save some money.
Let's talk about something a little closer. You said you agree with my stance on debt. Okay, so how are you going to buy your next car without going into debt if you haven't saved anything? How will you survive if you get laid off from your job if you haven't saved any money? Bad things happen when people are foolish enough not to save money.
Saving is doing something with your money, Tim. It's one of the most important things you can do with money — for yourself and those around you!