Saturday, February 20, 2010

If you give a 'tween a cell phone

Shamelessly stealing a classic concept here, now updated for parents of 'tweens.

(The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual 'tweens is merely a coincidence.)

If you give a ‘tween a cell phone

She’ll probably need texting, because you’ll have to pay for every text she sends AND receives.

Then she’ll need internet access so she can check her email while she’s out.
If she’s going to check her email, she might as well check Facebook.

If she’s going to check Facebook, she’ll need a Facebook account.
Once she’s on Facebook, she’ll see what all of her friends are up to.

She’ll see that they are allowed to go to movies without a parent, so she’ll ask to go to a movie as well.

She’ll point out that she now has a cell phone, so you can call her to check up on her.

Once she goes to a movie, she’ll want to hang out with these friends some more.

She’ll notice that all the friends wear Uggs, so she’ll tell you that she must have Uggs.

If she’s lucky enough to get a pair of Uggs for Christmas, she’ll wear them until spring. Then she’ll say it’s too hot for Uggs, and she needs a pair of Coach tennis shoes.

If she’s lucky enough to get a pair of Coach tennis shoes for the next Christmas, she’ll also want a Coach wristlet.

Her friends will want to sit around and talk about their name brand stuff.
She’ll decide that she doesn’t have as much stuff as her friends.

She’ll beg you for a trip to the mall so that she doesn’t have to wear nerd clothes.

She’ll lend her new jacket to a friend.

You’ll ask her where it is, and she’ll tell you not to worry.
Instead, she comes home in someone else’s brand name jacket.

You’ll wonder if the other jacket wearer’s parent is wondering where that jacket is.

With all this time spent on clothes, texting and Facebook, she’ll run out of time to do homework.
Then she’ll get the cell phone taken away.

You’ll argue, and she’ll call you mean and horrible.

But she’ll finally do enough work to get her grades back up.

You’ll give her back the cell phone.

And she’ll tell you that her cell phone is old and outdated and she needs a new one.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cash only

Does anyone remember the days before debit cards? Remember how you had to make sure you were carrying cash, or at least had your checkbook? When you went to the grocery store, you tried to keep a mental tally of how much you were buying, so you wouldn't go over in the checkout line? Then debit cards came along. How awesome. You just put the card in the machine and it took the money right out of your checkbook. Whoosh! Suddenly it was easier to make those impulse purchases. If you were shopping for produce and saw a really nice cake, you could get both the carrots and the cake. Then came the next level – debit cards were accepted at fast food restaurants. No need to carry cash for those impulse trips to the Golden Arches. The kids caught on quickly. If you claimed you didn't have the money for a Happy Meal, they'd point out that you could just put it on your card. And you thought, "You know, if I stop at McDonald's, they can eat their fries in the car and maybe we can get a few more errands done before the complaints start."

I don't know about you, but the debit card became my lifeline to instant gratification. I didn't have to plan anything. If I was out, I could swing by Target and grab that laundry detergent I needed, as well as about 13 more things I didn't realize I needed. Debit cards made it easy to spend money. Sure, there's that annoying task of actually recording your purchases when you came home. I always tended to underestimated how much I spent in a week, too.

Lately, the husband and I are wondering if we can live on a little less each week. We've decided to give our debit cards a break. Each week, we take out enough money to cover grocery runs, Target runs and an occasional meal out. We leave enough in the bank to cover an emergency debit purchase, but most of our purchases have to be in cash. If the cash runs out before the week is done, we stop buying. Crazy concept, I know.

I went to the grocery store and immediately noticed a spending difference. The M&Ms looked yummy, but did I want to add another $3 to the grocery bill? Could I live a few more days without Diet Coke, or should I take advantage of the $5 for 24 deal at Meijer? Even so, it's Wednesday now and I have about $24 to last until Friday. Matt was working last night, which sometimes translates to a trip to Steak N Shake for the girls and me. Instead, we stayed home and had pancakes for dinner.

I have to be honest. I'm not sure how long this will last. I miss my debit card freedom. But I do like the feeling of saving money, and I do like living without the guilt of extraneous purchases. I kind of like having cash in my pocket, too. When I'm at church and want to put an extra buck in the collection plate, I can. When my daughter remembers that she needs $3 for a field trip, I can give her $3 in singles, rather than write a check. Target trips may never be the same, but I do love the feeling of living within our means. I've missed it.