“Kids go free” is a phrase you hear a lot as a parent. Everything from the cinema to public transport wants to do their part for the younger generation. Plus, they want to entice parents into spending money, but that’s a different conversation for another day. The point is that children often get a free ride which helps you to save money. One less price of admission to worry about – kerching!
The home is another story altogether. Again, children go free but it’s at your expense this time. Parents pay a fortune for their flesh and blood so that they don’t have to lift a finger. Most mums and dads will read this and think “so they should;” kids need to be kids. And, they do because growing up too quickly is a crime when you only get one chance to be a youngster.
Still, it doesn’t mean children should fob off their outgoings on their parents. You’re trying to slash the cost of living and they’re adding to it indiscriminately. Not only does this make paying the bills tough, but it doesn’t teach them the importance of hard work. There are some things kids should have to contribute to for their sake, and you can find them underneath.
This probably isn’t a shock, but the former foundations of society are starting to fall apart. 44% of people aged between 18 and 24 told a recent study they were more comfortable speaking via social media than in person. To that end, the same demographic are twenty times more likely never to talk to a neighbour compared to fifty-year-olds. And, let’s not get started on childhood obesity which stands at one in five at the moment.
Technology has a massive role to play because kids come home, switch on the TV and start gorging. Or, they pick up an iPad and browse YouTube or surf the Web. And, they can do it because it’s free. As long as you pay for the wifi connection, nothing is stopping them downloading movies and listening to songs. In-house entertainment should be a treat, something they’ll understand if they have to pay to rent films or split the cost of the wifi bill. Hopefully, the thought will get them to go outside and socialise.
Books should always be free, traditional or electronic, as they can be an outlet for learning. If they have to pay, they’ll never read another novel again.
Parents should always make sure their kids have the right outfits in their wardrobes. Contrary to popular millennial opinion, this doesn’t mean you should kit them out in the latest Ralph Lauren styles. Mums and dads need to buy them stuff which is practical, such as a warm coat (essential in winter) and shoes which don’t wear away instantly. Loafers are nice, nobody denies it, but they start to fall apart after a couple of wears, which is ridiculous.
If they want the latest trends, then that’s their prerogative. It’s not your job to ensure they’re the most stylish person in school or on the street. So, that means they should pay for anything that doesn’t fall into your responsibility bracket. Firstly, it will stop them from relying on their parents for things, and that’s always a sharp lesson. Secondly, it will teach them the value of money. A new Jack Wills gilet is fashionable, but it’s also about £100 and that sort of money doesn’t fall into a person’s lap.
The only time you might want to splash out is when the quality is high. Usually, paying more for well-manufactured clothes saves money as you don’t need to replace clothes.
As soon as your children get to the age where they can drive legally, they look to their parents for help. And, it’s understandable because 17-year-olds can’t afford the costs which come with owning a car. Plenty of grown-ups struggle so a kid who isn’t self-sustaining will find it tricky, and you don’t want them to take out a loan. As the lesser of two evils, it’s generally better to contribute to their independence. Think of it as an investment as you won’t need to ferry them around anymore.
Paying for everything is where mums and dads go wrong. Yes, the price of insurance is sky high, yet that doesn’t mean you need to fork out for the car too. The fact that their policy is £1,500 a year suggests you’ve done your bit. Then, it’s over to them to pull their weight and stick to their end of the bargain. After all, you don’t want to teach them that an asset such as a car is a frivolous expense.
Don’t worry if they say they can’t afford it because they haven’t looked at all the options. To begin with, they can buy an old banger as there’s no need to buy a new model. Anything which gets them from A to B should teach them the value of driving. Secondly, you can add them to the family insurance policy and they can use yours. However, they pay for the extra policy costs and can only use it when it’s free. Again, it’s a privilege, not a right.
Well, that’s a big jump from a used car and designer clothes. Indeed it is, but nobody is saying you need to fork out £9,000 a year and the rest for their education. If you could, you would, yet the costs are too high and the government will pick up the cheque anyway. They will have to pay it back at some point, but it’s not a bad loan deal as they need to earn £21,000+ to qualify for the repayments.
No, what you should make them pay for is the living costs. After the first year, students move out and have to pay for rent, food and alcohol among other things. The latter isn’t necessary yet it’s impossible to go to uni without enjoying the nightlife. Now that they’re 18 and above, it’s time to stop wrapping them in cotton wool as they must understand how the world works.
That means asking them to get a job to pay for their rent and shopping bills. Think of it as a sort of nursery for when they graduate and leave the family home forever. University is the time to teach them how to be financially stable. Of course, parents chip in when their kids are skint, but the main expenses aren’t your problem. Well, unless you’re a guarantor!
Mobile Phone Contract
There’s no doubt your son or daughter will have a mobile phone as most millennials can’t live without one. Kids that can’t check Twitter every five minutes lose their heads as the FOMO kicks in and affects their brains. As with the majority of mobiles, your children probably have a phone contract which is payable every month. 67% and 63% of people in rural and urban areas are the same. And, there’s a good chance you are paying for it.
Aside from the fact it’s an indulgence, one which isn’t necessary, it’s also a poor financial move. Everyone, your children included, needs good credit if they are going to buy a house or secure a loan. Because they’re young and you pay for anything, they don’t have a score. A mobile phone contract is an affordable and easy way for them to build up their rating for their long-term financial stability.
Of course, there is no reason you can’t help them choose the best deal. A new mobile network is often a savvy move as they have excellent deals. At the moment, rolling over or refunding data are two features which slash the price of a deal. Also, parents should help them understand what they want rather than opting for the biggest bundle. If they use the internet a lot, a large data package is better than free texts and minutes.
Along the same lines of a phone contract, kids should pay for any replacements also. Imagine if you had belongings which you never had to contribute to if they were lost or broken. Now, think about how careful you’d be if this was the case. Typically, the people who don’t have to deal with the consequences won’t bother about taking care of their stuff.
In a throwaway culture, it’s vital youngsters learn the importance of getting value for money. Otherwise, they’ll grow up and splash their cash on anything and everything and won’t be stable financially. Also, it’s an excellent way to welcome them into adulthood. It might be an accident yet a grown-up can’t blame their bad luck. Adults have to pay for a repair or replacement regardless of whether it was accidental or on purpose.
And yes, this goes for the essentials too. Just because it’s something for school or work doesn’t mean they can shirk their responsibilities.
Parents have to pay for some things, yet there are others which kids can easily afford. The lessons they’ll learn from the experience will be vital in later life.