Jan 30, 2012

The Value of Money--Part 2 of 3

In last week's post (click HERE), Irma and her husband were having issues with their daughter Connie.  She was treating them like a money tree when it came to her clothes-buying habits.  They were at the end of their wits when they decided to analyze the situation and come up with a solution that they hoped would change Connie's perceptions.  Read on:

[Connie] needed to see her clothes outlay in relation to the family budget.  She needed to think of the various items in terms of suitability and continued wear.  Instead of which, she chose on impulse, and about a third of the time the item so loved in the store hung unused in her closet at home.  (Yep, just like the mall girl I mentioned.)

We decided to try turning the entire problem over to her.  We'd invest one hundred dollars in a bank account for her and let her spend it the way she wished.  The money would have to last from late September through January, and if she ran through it sooner, she'd have to struggle along with what clothes she had.  All we asked was that she keep a record of her expenditures.

Connie had a pretty decent wardrobe to start with, but she would need replacements and occasional small luxuries, perhaps a dress and a blouse or two.  Coats were not to be included--we weren't quite ready to turn her loose with such an important purchase.

We told her about our decision when school started in the fall. She was just fourteen that month.  Her eyes widened in awe at the vastness of the sum entrusted to her care.  She was thrilled with anticipation, and eager to start right in on the new project.  We had uneasy visions of the bank account's vanishing in the first two weeks.

It didn't.  It actually lasted past the appointed time.  And it did an incredible lot of good for the whole family.  The change in Connie's attitude was so dramatic as to be almost funny.  She turned, practically overnight, into a demon shopper who compared prices and quality with astonishingly good judgment.

I was invited to go with her on her first shopping expedition.  We spent many hours, but she bought nothing but a tweed skirt for seven ninety-five.  It would be fine for school, she decided, because it had flecks of color that would be a cover-up for inevitable smudges.

On later shopping trips, she proved just as sensible.  She bought only nylon socks, even though they cost more, because they lasted longer.  She concentrated on blouses and skirts instead of dresses, because they afforded more variety.  She began, and kept up, an account book that was excellent budget training.  By the end of six months, it also provided a bird's-eye view of which purchases had been worthwhile and which had been foolish extravagances.  Connie couldn't ignore those five-dollar white-fur mittens by burying them in a drawer, when they stared at her every time she opened her account book.

Next week: The Ultimate Results.


weenie_elise said...

I wonder if those changes stuck? Hmmmmm, great segment!

K Quinn said...

Nice! I have to keep this in mind for when Sweet Peanut hits the teens.

Roxanne said...

Weenie--I bet they did. Too bad that's not "norm" now. It would probably make a lot of budgets happier!

K Quinn--Isn't it hard to believe that Sweet Peanut will one day be a teen? I'm in denial about that for my son!

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