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Monday, September 2, 2013

The Day I Gave My Kid $300 for a Back To School Budget

Here’s the backstory: Sweet Guy has been working on the Boy Scout merit badge on Personal Finance. One of the requirements is that he keep a 3 month budget calendar with the thought of keeping track of how an allowance is spent. In our home we don’t give an allowance. Chores are done as part of the responsibility of living in the home and helping the family as a whole. However, opportunity is given in that extra chores can be done for pocket money.  I would like to say he eagerly does extra chores all the time, but that would be a bit of a verbal stretch. :) So I had to come up with another way for him to have a budget.

Which led to me handing him $300.

Knowing him as a I do this was quickly followed up with the ground rules regarding what the money could be spent on:


Undergarments and socks

Shoes and accessories


School supplies

The very first thing he bought was a $15 pair of long coveted minecraft sunglasses which he claimed was an accessory he needed since he would be riding his bike/scooter to school under the hot Arizona sun.  I’ll be honest that I panicked a bit as I foresaw the horrible direction this lesson could go in. 

But then he followed up with purchasing 3 pairs of jeans that were marked down to $5.48. Now that’s my boy!

budget 006-001

I showed him how to shop the circulars in the Sunday paper and he felt so good about his 1 cent and 5 cent school supply scores.

We worked on his $300 budget over the course of several weeks. He got every single thing on his most wanted/needed list to include surf style shoes from H & M, a Jansport backpack and a plaid Shaun White shirt which he’s been wanting and finally got on clearance for $3.48. It was a successful venture.

back to school 002-001

Now he is working on raising money for a video game bus party to celebrate his 12th birthday at the end of September. We once again set a budget, but this time he must pay for half of it. He has been collecting cans and is currently planning a garage sale later this month.

His first score for the party? Disposable party ware in a boy approved color palette.

budget 008-001

Do you set budgets and stick to them?


Linking to:

Between Naps On The Porch , A Stroll Thru Life, Not Just A HousewifeA Bowl Full of Lemons, We Are That Family, The 36th Avenue, Craftberry Bush, Stonegable The Shabby Creek Cottage, Jennifer Rizzo, No Minimalist Here, Country Cottage, The Shabby Nest, Someday Crafts, Imparting Grace,My Romantic Home, Common Ground , The Charm of Home, Tatertots and Jello


Valorie said...

Great post! You have taught him many important skills in this one lesson. I wish I had done the same. My boys are very frugal but the girls, oh my, when they have the money, they can spend!

Auntie Em said...

What a great lesson learned! One I am sure he will use the rest of his life.
And he looks quite handsome in his school outfit. You may have to change his nick name to Handsome Clever Guy! :)

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

What a great lesson!! We do something like this for both kids ... and luckily they are cool with Mama shopping the clearance aisles! LOL!! For Brookie's bday party next month, I totally scored on cupcake patterned plates and napkins on clearance for 75 cents a package!! :)

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

He is learning how to really shop and be thrifty, good for him. I think we will have several things to add to his garage sale. Hugs, Marty

April Dunlap said...

love the boy-approved palette colors!
he's such a cutie. i know y'all have so much fun. hope back to school is AWESOME this year!

Blackberry Lane said...

He has a fabulous teacher - you! I know you are proud of him. I hope he has a great school year. Best wishes to him at the yard sale.

Vicki said...

Well, I set budgets...

Good job, Mom!

miss flibbertigibbet said...

Great job! More kids need to learn how to shop thriftily and spend wisely for what is most important.....along the way learning what IS important you hope! Sounds like he's on the right track and getting good teaching!

ImagiMeri said...

Oh is this a trick question???? I set budgets all the time.....keeping to them is a whole nother story girlfriend! When I lived on my own my rule was to pay all my bills, on time, first and whatever was leftover (not much at the time) was my play money. 35 years later, I still try to live by that rule, but it doesn't seem to work the same when you're married and both of you have different rules.......ha, ha, ha. Good for sweet guy and good for you for starting him in the right direction. I'm still chuckling over the scramble to take back the chips moment I got to witness the other day.......hee hee.

Love ya'

black sabeth said...

at least it wasn't a zebra back pack!

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

Well done! :)

Linda (More Fun Less Laundry) said...

Well, Laura, let's just say that I set a budget but please don't ask me how successfully I stick to it... :) That personal finance merit badge is a fantastic one. I remember when we were doing it too! We did not do allowances either, but we did discuss and point out costs of supplies and activities and made choices together. Good luck to your son on his journey to Eagle! Linda

Jen said...

Great lesson to teach! It sounds as if he did quite well. We are having our own budget lessons here as our 13 year old mowed yards some this summer. My how that money has burned a hole in his pocket. So, we have opened him a bank account. He has to put at least 3/4 of what he makes in the account, and then budget what he has left for church and anything he thinks he HAS to have. He is learning how quickly it all goes, and to save now which was the goal.

BTW... I am excited about all of the wonderful changes coming to your blog. =) I have enjoyed following you for a while now and excited to continue.

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Laura, someday his wife will thank you! THIS is how to raise a young man to make financially wise choices. Great job to you and Sweet Mister!

From the time our girls were young teenagers, we gave them a set amount to start the new school year -- and again in the spring. They had to budget the money and make it stretch just like the rest of us. They knew -- "when it was gone, it was gone." Overall, they made really good choices. Sounds like your boy is, too! Best wishes for a wonderful school year at your house!

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

Congratulations on having the courage to implement your project. I wish more parents were like you - valuable life lessons. Bisous

Karen Albert said...

Dear Laura,
Now this was a great lesson on finance and budgeting for Sweet Boy!
It is not always easy; however later in life it will be a huge help!

Feature: Entrepreneur Sigal Sasson

Shelia said...

Hi Laura! What a great lesson for your son and he did well. You're a good mother to help with this. You're setting him up for the man he'll be someday. Thanks so much for popping in to see m.e
be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

SheilaG @ Plum Doodles said...

Great idea, Laura. We didn't set a budget for the kids, but we shopped frugally. It would have been wise to give them the knowledge and skills for budgeting, though.

Rachel R. said...

My children do get a small allowance, specifically SO they can learn to manage money. (Their chores aren't contingent on the money and the money isn't contingent on the chores; they're two entirely separate things. I do my part around the house simply as part of the family, but my husband doesn't make me go get a job for pay in order to have any money to spend. Just sayin' ;) )

That said, we're still working on the concept of wise spending. The first big lesson was when one child spent a sizeable chunk of money (for a kid her age) at the dollar store on things I would consider "plastic junk" - and most of it broke within a couple of days. Hopefully she'll remember that the next time!

Your son appears to be older than my kids, though; I hope they learn as well as he has!

Kelley said...

We did ditto what you're teaching your son. Our girls did paper routes when we lived here on the US mainland, and as home schoolers earned $5 for every quarterly A. If we knew they were incapable, of course we would not be singing this song. In college they got NO loans and put themselves through working two and three jobs. Every girl was always jealous of their cute (ahem, thrift store and garage sale) clothes and every man was attracted to their spirits! LOL

We also taught our girls to wash their own clothes on their own laundry day by their 13th? birthday or so. After teaching these concepts at a ladies conference, one Dad and Mom taught each of their children to accomplish their own clean laundry before age 10.

Watch "Nineteen and Counting" episodes and you'll see healthy, happy children who know the value of life, time and the fruit of their labors. If it's not taught, it can't be taught.

What a handsome young man living under your roof! Don't blink!


P.S. Wish we could see him in his specs!