I’ll Help Out and Pay For Stuff.

It isn’t often that we get a chance to impart a life lesson on our kids about money. But now, we have that chance.

We are not well-off, but we are not suffering through poverty. (I did that in my youth; I know what it’s like.) Our kids, however, get to do a lot and they pay for very little. Dylan, in particular, believes he is very careful with his money because he rarely spends anything – and when he does buy something, it’s usually cheap.

Dylan is so careful with money, in fact, that he’s saved a ton of money just by not spending anything.

Then he got a real job.

This summer, working part-time, he made about $700. He went to the mall a few times, but his grand total spent at the mall (all summer) was probably less than $100. However, he bought two concert tickets in June, which cost more than $100. Then he bought two more concert tickets for $130.

So his net profit for working all summer isn’t that high.

Now, just before school starts and without any upcoming work, Dylan’s friends are coming into town for a few days.

These friends are online friends – a couple of sisters who Dylan has never met in person. They got some cheap plane tickets and are flying in from Louisiana.

“It would really help them out if we could pick them up from the airport,” he said – notifying us for the first time of the concrete plans that were forming around him.

“What?” I said. “You want me to do what?” He didn’t seem to understand the enormity of what was about to happen.

These girls bought plane tickets with no intention of renting a car when they got here – and Dylan expected us to pick up the slack for their five-day vacation.

Dylan told them, “I’ll help out and pay for stuff.” He said maybe he could help pay for the hotel.

This did not go over well with us, since we know how expensive “stuff” can be.

The girls decided to stay in a cheap hotel room nowhere near the airport or near our house. When we explained the hazards of drug deals gone bad in that city, I was able to find them a place to stay that is equally cheap – but much nicer – on AirBnB. (This site is a Godsend; who knew?)

Then we talked about the things we were planning to do for the weekend. The state fair and the Renaissance Festival – admissions costs alone are upwards of $50. We decided that we will not be doing anything fun while Dylan’s friends are in town.

Even without planned activities, people need to eat. No one had even considered food. Coming from a rural area in Louisiana, these teens are going to have extreme sticker shock.

Bill tossed $100 at the problem, changed their airplane tickets to something more manageable, and directed them to stay three days (cheaper) instead of five. We worked with them to get the plane tickets changed and the AirBnB room reserved.

Still, Dylan has volunteered to “help you with whatever you need.” If only he knew how much that “help” is going to cost him. What’s left of his summer earnings is as good as gone.

He has to learn sometime. It may as well be now.

Maybe next summer, he’ll be able to earn some more money. And maybe at the end of next summer, it won’t all be gone.


  1. Susan says:

    I’m kind of curious when you suffered poverty in your youth?

    • Kirsten says:

      While I was dirt poor as an infant/young child (but didn’t know it until I grew up), this post is referring to ‘youth’ as my twenties – when I lived at various levels of poverty. Highlights included – among others – living in a hotel room that housed four adults and only one twin bed, surviving on and donations of canned milk and powdered eggs from the local food bank, and/or living on unemployment and food stamps. I remember it all too well.

  2. Kirsten says:

    I know, RIGHT?!? I am wondering the same thing!

  3. Peg says:

    Ok, I have to say it. Where are these girls’ parents? I can’t imagine letting my kids travel without asking these questions!

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