Personal finance is called that for a very good reason. It’s personal. What works for me might not work for you and vice-versa. Someone reading this might be a dual-income, no kids family (DINK), or you might be like me and running a single mom/dad household, or maybe you have dual income with kids. All of these various living situations will result in very different budgets.
Our family’s budget was comprised of my salary and Social Security payments from the time the boys were very young (6 months and 2 1/2 years old) until they graduated from high school. The Social Security payments they received as a result of my husband’s death stopped once they graduated from high school. I will always be grateful for this assistance but I can assure you those payments didn’t come close to making up for the lost income from my husband and the fact that it stops as they’re ready to go to college is especially rough.
I’ve never been what’s considered a high earner. I chose a job that allowed me the flexibility of being able to prioritize my kids schedules and activities. I’ve always been pretty good at juggling the money we do have to pay for what we need. There weren’t fancy vacations, and with the exception of one year, my son didn’t participate in travel lacrosse teams, and you’re not going to see a closet full of designer clothes or shoes in my closet.
We’ve always had enough money to pay the mortgage/rent, keep the utilities on, keep the fridge stocked (well as much as having two teenage boys in the house allows), and I can probably count on one hand the times I wasn’t able to get to one of their sports or extracurricular activities though.
Despite living frugally over the years, one income doesn’t stretch far with two kids. I picked up various second jobs once they graduated and downsized our housing in an effort to make up the Social Security payments we were losing but it’s still a tight juggle at times. Both my boys were eager to get part-time jobs as soon as they were old enough to. The condition was that school and grades always came first. If they dropped below A/B honor roll then jobs and sports and extracurricular activities went bye-bye. Below are 6 things they’re responsible for paying for themselves now:
Cars: They’ve earned the money to pay for their cars. My oldest does have a small car loan taken out in my name but he pays the payment every month.
Car Insurance: They each pay their own car insurance to me each month. I do tend to round down a bit when looking at our bill but they the majority of it.
Car Maintenance: Gas, oil changes, repairs, etc. Not that I’ve not helped out at times or let them elect for new tires to be a birthday/Christmas gift, etc.
Cell Phones: We have a family plan with Verizon and I pay for their service while they’re still in school but if they want to upgrade to shinier new phones or replace damaged cell phones that they didn’t have cases on (expensive lesson) then they are responsible for paying for those.
College: I wish I’d been able to fully fund their college accounts but it just wasn’t possible. I highly stressed the importance of getting good grades and making themselves as college-ready as possible over the years. Michael attends a private college and despite generous scholarship/financial aid package will have a decent student loan balance he’ll be responsible for. I will help if I can but he’s aware these are ultimately his responsibility. Nick attends a state university and has had to take out a very limited amount of loans thus far. Both have had various gifts at times for books, etc. but for the most part they’ve been responsible for the majority of their college costs.
Food/Entertainment: Obviously I go to the store for groceries and purchased items for their school lunches and if we go out to eat as a family then I buy the meals but if they are out and about with friends, etc., then they purchase their own fast food or soft drinks or snacks or movies or sporting events or whatever they do with friends.
This is what works for us. There are times I can help out more and there are times I can’t. What does your family do? How do you handle finances related to your kids? Especially once they are teenagers or older?