Throughout the process of teaching our children about personal finance, parents have the opportunity to learn even more about saving money than the children. To protect yourself from the erosion of your wallet that usually takes place, taking it from pleasantly plump to Twiggy-like, you must be aware of the techniques and learn to counter them. Let me provide you with some tips:
#1 Watch for the offer by your teenagers to run errands at the store for you. This is a ruse. They will take your $20, buy your milk and bread, and before it's in the fridge, they are out the door with the rest of your change - for their convenience.
#2 The "throw them off the scent" maneuver. Check for items thrown in your shopping cart (Get suspicious when they offer to go shopping with you.) that cost $2.50 plus tax, and you are thrown one bill and a lot of pennies along with a question like, "When is the best time to go all the way." Don't let it register any surprise. You have gone over that topic enough times and they are banking on your parental concern. After four or five years of this technique, I put a stop to it - immediately!
#3 Keep a sharp eye and pencil out for the "keep a tab" routine. This is when they use creative math skills to do some funny figuring of their bogus borrowing and lending transactions at your expense. Look for the same skills honed altering report card grades and parent signatures to show up on their debit and credit line registers. And the more transactions recorded, the harder it is to keep them straight, which is what they are counting on.
If you are aware of this basic financial funny business, and take charge when they try these techniques, you will be more likely to have a wallet with substance and kids on their toes. If not, a part-time job is a good way to keep the cash coming in. I mean them, not you!
Mary Fagan has an M.S. in Education