Impacts on spending decisions

It would be a mistake for me to have you thinking that introducing a living allowance to our teenager has gone smooth AF, because it hasn’t. Like I mention in our about page, life is an endless experiment, and we tweak and tune the parameters of the allowance as challenges crop up, and there have been some challenges. But, we have seen glimmers of the kind of thinking we wanted this big change to inspire.

Just like large-scale change in the organisation where you might work, a change to the system requires a change to the way we think as we adapt to the new system, and that can cause bad moods. The Kübler-Ross Change Curve shows you the range of emotions and behaviours that our new allowance structure has influenced.

We all travel this rollercoaster, not just the kid, so be prepared for your own frustration, denial, and depression. Also be aware of micro-leaps all across this curve within a single day or week. Don’t forget that this curve represents the progression of human adult emotions in response to change. We’re living with teenagers in this scenario, so it’s all over the map.

Here are some of the impact moments I’ve observed:

Self-directed price comparison and cost-saving decisions

One of the early positives was when Mr14 (he just had a birthday) wanted to go to the movies with friends the next day. Instead of just agreeing to meet everyone at the Hoyts, he researched and found the same movie at a cheaper price from a nearby arthouse cinema, saving himself about $5 and using that savings to buy the requisite movie junk from the supermarket downstairs, rather than from the more expensive candy bar.

Checking in to avoid a potential impulse buy

The day before the movies, Mr14 was hanging out in the city with friends and texted me to ask if he could spend all his allowance if he happened across sneakers that were on sale for the right price. I sent back a text reminding him that he had movie plans for the next day, and that the decision was ultimately his, but if he had no money left, he wouldn’t be able to go to the movies. He texted back “dw”. That means don’t worry.

Lamenting poor spending decisions

Mr14 sent me a text one day last week to say that he’d be home later and would be eating out in the city with a friend. I was obviously exasperated at the short notice and that I’d made plans to cook spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, but you pick your battles, right? He came home with a box of KFC and sat at the table with that while Mr10 and I were eating our home-cooked meal. Part way through, he said he would’ve preferred to have spaghetti and meatballs than to have spent $15 on KFC.

So, that’s the good stuff. What about the tough stuff?

I fell off the co-CFO wagon

Mr14 had a few days left of school holidays after being away for a week and he was enjoying playing online games with his mates. His mates decided they wanted to play a CS: GO tournament (or something) and he had to pay to join (or something). It would be USD$25. He wanted an advance. I acquiesced, due to decision-fatigue from the school holidays, but took $34 from him straight out of his next allowance. That was the $25, plus conversion, plus 10% interest. Matt and I have since discussed clarification to the loan clause in the contract to say “no payday loans”. When you’ve got clear-cut boundaries, decision-fatigue will have less influence.

Reverting to past behaviours

Mr14 called me yesterday afternoon from the shops. He asked me to transfer $2 to his Spriggy card. I asked why. He didn’t have enough to buy the can of whipped cream that he planned to squirt directly into his mouth. I said, “no, I’m not an ATM”, and hung up. He came home with a block of chocolate, no cream, and no money left on his card.

As you can see, we’re not even through the second month of this and we’re all over the map.

Share your #wins and #fails in the comments. It’s all good. x

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