Monday, October 22, 2007

Money management

For about as long as I can remember, my dad has complained about my complete and utter lack of money management skills. He made some hints along those lines when my parents visited recently. I think that this is rather unfair. (I do not, for example, live paycheck to paycheck with a half dozen loans... I have only the two mortgages on my house, and no other debt or credit card balances.) When I was growing up, I'd save up pretty much all of the money that I got until I had enough to buy something that I wanted, and then I'd buy it. The thing that I would buy would usually cost all of my money, because I have expensive hobbies. It was this periodic dumping of all of my cash that was the source of all of his money management concerns; I heard the cliché "burning a hole in your pocket" so many times that I should have it inscribed on a plaque.

To me, that seems like pretty good money management for a teenager with no financial obligations. I completely understood the costs of what I was buying, and waited until I could afford things before buying them. I planned purchases in advance so that I wouldn't spend impulsively.

Really the only difference today is that the numbers are bigger, and I keep buffer cash around because I do have financial obligations. My money management habits are what I consider to be simple and good enough for me. When I want to buy something more than a few hundred bucks, and it's something I'm sure that I want to buy, I check how much money I have. I make sure that the price of the item I'm buying is no more than the amount of money I have minus, say, five grand. If it fits that criteria, I buy it. If it doesn't, I wait to buy it.

It seems that if kids would understand that, they'd probably learn to manage money just fine. For bonus points, maybe parents of older kids should insist that they keep around buffer cash, as if they were paying rent and bills. It helped growing up in a somewhat unprivileged environment, being responsible for purchasing most of my own entertainment items with my own money and not receiving much in the way of handouts and allowances, other than gifts from grandparents. I think that, by the time a lot of kids start having money to spend on things, they're used to having things they want purchased for them, and they don't have any idea how to deal with it. Having to manage my money to maximize my enjoyment at a fairly young age was helpful, I think.

But, kids are stupid, and none of these ideas really acknowledge that fact very well. I probably shouldn't have kids.

1 comment:

Louise said...

Wow....I don't know what your father is thinking. You are one of the most fiscally responsible people I know!