Hey there Rene,
Love the site – and all your great advice and pieces!
I’d really love your advice on this one. My husband and I let our daughter Sally – she’s 14 – borrow our credit card so she could book some concert tickets.
However unbeknownst to us she’s been charging items behind our back – and has now racked up over $2,000 in debts on clothes, music downloads and gadgets.
Her father is furious and wants to permanently stop her allowance. I think this is too harsh. She’s too young to get a job to pay the money back – and even if she could it would take her forever.
I want her to learn a lesson from this – but I also don’t want to put it behind us…
What would you do GEM?
I must say I agree with your husband. Look, what Sally did was steal from you; she took something that did not belong to her. Here’s what I would do.
*First I would explain to her what the penalty is under the law. If a stranger stole your credit card and charged 2,000 dollars worth of stuff, they would face trial and jail time. Sally needs to know that.
* I would also have a very serious discussion with her about how she violated the bonds of trust. You gave her the credit card for one specific purpose and she, without asking abused that. She showed little regard for you and your husband and the fact that you work hard for your money.
*She may be too young for a real job but she’s not too young to babysit, do lawns, gardens, walk dogs, pick up dog poop – whatever she has to do to earn extra money. That includes surrendering a portion of her allowance every week until that debt is retired. This may force her to find creative ways to earn extra money (sell stuff on eBay, hold garage sales, whatever)
*And finally I would put together a spreadsheet to show her how much she is expected to pay each week or month and how long before that debt is retired. Then everyone signs off on the plan and puts it in place.
And now note to you Barbara. Did you not see Sally with clothes and gadgets that you did not buy? It’s important that we as parents still monitor what is going on inside our home. That includes what our kids are wearing and buying.
I would say this is a tough lesson and the ones we learn from most are the ones that smart a bit. This needs to be somewhat painful for Sally, so no reneging on the payment plan, even if it takes years.
Best to you both!
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