Fostering Independence

Below is a guest post from Joy and Josh. I like how they have set up independence goals for each of their children, and are tackling these goals one at a time. Teaching our kids to manage their money is a huge task (and a long, long process), but the rewards are well worth the effort! Since summer tends to be a slower-paced season, it’s a great time to work on some of these skills. Baby steps… We’ll get there!

For each of our three kids, we have an independence goal in mind (which we have not necessarily shared with them).  For R., who is graduating high school and going away to college, it is developing financial literacy and getting a summer job.  For S., who is entering high school in the fall, it is doing his homework without involving us in the drama around it.

For Matt, our goal is to get him to become more financially independent.   Matt receives disability support checks, which are supposed to cover his rent.   He also receives food stamps; from time to time, he tells us he has run out of food stamp money, and he also can’t use food stamps for things like toiletries. In those cases, we have also contributed to his account so that, in our mind, he could make ends meet.

However, since we get the statements from Matt’s bank account, we have been noticing that over the last couple of months, he has made some fairly large expenditures on acquiring radios/record players to add to his beloved collection.  This discovery has made us realize that perhaps Matt can make ends meet without as much help from us.

We now plan to look at what Matt has spent over the past three months.  Then the goal would be to start working with Matt on making a budget so that he doesn’t need to rely on contributions as much from us. We believe that he needs to learn that there is a difference between “needs” and “wants.”.  

We expect a lot of resistance over this.  Matt typically starts accusing us of trying to control his money.   At some point we may need to tell Matt that we are not giving him any more money until he makes a budget.  We don’t want Matt to turn out like some of our extended family members whom well into adulthood, seem to believe that their elderly parents are a money tree.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

P.S.  Matt just called to tell us that he went to the dollar store to get laundry detergent and supplies.  He must know we are concerned.


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