Your Best Tips for Managing the Family Money

For example, Francine Smilen recalled having “a tug of war with a pair of $80 jeans” with her teenage daughter in a Macy’s dressing room:

Francine: “I am not buying you these jeans for 80 bucks.”

Daughter: “Yes, you are.”

Francine: “No, I am not.”

In the end, after many similar discussions, “we paid for shoes, underwear, coats and other essentials, and gave her a quarterly clothing allowance for anything else,” Ms. Smilen reported. “This obviated any arguments over $80 jeans or (stupid) branded clothing.”

And the result? “It was interesting how she began to go to thrift shops. And, now, at age 30, she is the best bargain hunter I know.”

The same principle — “We’ll cover the basics; everything else is up to you” — kept coming up in my “Crowdwise” correspondence:

  • Nancy Halbin Betker covered her daughter’s college tuition, supplies, and room and board — but not entertainment or social activities. ”That meant in high school, she got a job to save for college. And when that money ran out, she got a job during college.”

  • When they were in high school, Lauri Wright gave her sons enough money to cover the cost of the cafeteria lunch. “If they wanted to eat off campus, they had to budget to afford it,” she wrote. Similarly, “during high school, we paid for a used, safe car that was in our name. We paid the insurance. The driver had to buy gasoline.” (The car did not go to college with the son. “Each son bought his own car during his sophomore or junior year in college with money he had saved.”

    Today, she said, “Each one of them has commented on how grateful they are that they learned how to manage money at an early age.”

  • Once Sophie Kent’s children had their first jobs (summer jobs, after-school jobs), she helped them apply for a credit card, linked to her own account. “Have the bank set a limit of number of dollars/month (we did $500),” she wrote. “We reimbursed only for school supplies and purchases at the pharmacy.”

Thank you for your wisdom, readers, and for sending it without expectation of remuneration. I considered offering you a penny for your thoughts, but I decided against it. You know — a penny saved is a penny earned.

In the next Crowdwise: Suppose you’re very large or small, especially tall or short, equipped with unusual facial features, built with a different number of limbs, or otherwise remarkable-looking. You may have learned that people sometimes don’t know how to react. Maybe they stare, look abruptly away, or shush their children. Maybe they ask questions — or studiously don’t.

Now suppose you had an opportunity to let the public about how you’d like to be treated, greeted, and regarded. What would you say is offensive, understandable, or welcome? Let us know (anonymously, if you like) at [email protected].

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