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Helping an older teen with poor spending habits


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Posted (edited)

DD19 is a spender. She always has been, and we've tried some things in the past that haven't proven to be helpful over the long term. I may write more about that in later posts, but I'd be interested in general ideas that people have right now, more than thoughts specific to our details.

DD has a summer job and her own bank account.

*edited*

If you have parented a teen or young adult who is not good at managing money, how have you helped them in ways that have made a lasting difference?

Please don't quote the specific incident. I may delete that.

Edited by Storygirl
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Your kiddo is my kiddo.  How much fishing tackle can one human own?!?!  He's supposed to be saving for a car but his impulsivity... fishing tackle, junk food, etc.  He categorizes these as needs.

I don't understand.  We aren't big spenders.  Our oldest four kids? NOT spendthrifts.  But, this kid has always struggled with justifying wants and impulsivity.  

We bought a curriculum for budgeting last week to work through with him.  I am guardedly hopeful??

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She's 19.  I would not be micromanaging her spending habits.  I would let her discover how poor spending habits can negatively affect her now while the consequences won't be too bad.  (Ie. I would not be rescuing her if she wants more money for things later.  ) 

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20 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

Your kiddo is my kiddo.  How much fishing tackle can one human own?!?!  He's supposed to be saving for a car but his impulsivity... fishing tackle, junk food, etc.  He categorizes these as needs.

My husband buys me shoes, outerwear and bags and classify them as needs. I have to go shopping with him to prevent more purchases. COVID shelter in place has made him stockpile more food.  He used to wait for prices to drop but now he fears if he don’t buy they (mainly food items like yeast) would be gone.

4 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Is ADHD impulsivity or anxiety (self-soothing by buying stuff) at play?

I think anxiety is at play for my husband’s purchases. He mentioned recently that he had never ate a cherry (other than on classmates’ birthday cakes) until we married because his parents could not afford. 
 

OP,

I had my own bank account and debit card since I was 11. I am very much a spender unless there is something to save for. So I had like $15k in savings on graduating college even though I earned on average $1k per month tutoring. I did pay for my own cellphone and monthly plans, as well as all wants. I was very much a spend what I earn as long as I don’t spend more than I earn.


Among my social circles in college, some were like me being told by parents/relatives that college is the last time to be relatively carefree before going into full time employment. Some like my husband and ex-classmates were worried about their sole breadwinner parent being unemployed and hold on to any spare cash. All of us end up with decent emergency savings. 
 

My parents didn’t comment on my spending for wants. My mom gave me a monthly cash allowance for school lunches since I was in 7th grade and expected me to budget. They just remind me to have a rainy day fund. 
 

What is helpful for me and my cousins, nephews and nieces was being taught to budget hands-on as part of daily life as well as how to file tax. My husband was only taught to hoard money but not to budget. So he had this fear of managing a household budget as well as managing loans. 

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22 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

She's 19.  I would not be micromanaging her spending habits.  I would let her discover how poor spending habits can negatively affect her now while the consequences won't be too bad.  (Ie. I would not be rescuing her if she wants more money for things later.  ) 

100% agree.  She is an adult.  It is better for her to learn things small like this $40 then be 40k worth of cc debit.  Let her make her mistakes on her own and learn from them.  Does she live with you?  What is she responsible for?  I would be looking to hand more responsibility over to her for things and let her learn.  Has she had an financial education?  Could you give her some books to read on the issue?

I think I would bring up financial issues around her to talk about or to read.  But as long as she is meeting the financial responsibilities that you have set for her to live in your house (rent, car payment, gas, phone, her own clothes) then I would let her spend her money on her own.  

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She’s 19. Our youngest Dd was the same way at that age, and now nearly a decade later she’s very responsible with her money. Somewhere along the way she matured.  Maybe your Dd will mature or maybe she won’t, but I’m not sure you can ‘fix’ it since she’s an adult. 

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Money is such an emotional subject that it is difficult to use logic to "get through" to people. 
My almost 19 y.o. DD is also a buyer. She always has been, not only for herself, but on others, too. Gifts are her love language.

Luckily, I have managed to, at least so far, get her to put some of every paycheck into savings, by discussing her future travel plans. She loves concerts and theater, so she really wants to go to Broadway some day, plus attend concerts of her favorite bands. She also has plans to go to Disneyland with a friend when it is safer to travel again.
 

But, whatever she keeps out for spending, she fills up her room with "stuff". It is overflowing.

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Gently,

She's hiding her purchases from you.  This isn't a good sign.  Your adult child should not feel as though you have say over her spending.  Your point of view isn't acceptable here. 

I get it with the long term/changing habits.  Oldest ds has mostly been a good spender in his adulting, but we made the decision a long time ago to be super open about our finances.  He knows:

-how much income we have
-monthly bills
-how we set goals
-how we manage spending accounts
-how we consider quarterly/annual payments like sports, taxes, etc.

He has access to all of this information and it helps him develop his own plan because he has seen it work long term.

That said, what you have isn't a spending problem.  A person who buys an overabundance doesn't have a spending problem, they have an emotional satisfaction problem.  Buying gives us a high.  For some, it's more than others.  It's a way to find happiness in that moment, but it wears off.  Your problem isn't the spending, it's how to develop habits to get that emotional satisfaction in healthier ways.  Some of that is going to be part of growing up, having to balance responsibilities and being forced into it.  Some of it may be able to be gently redirected.  But that's going to require the person to recognize the issue and meet it in healthier or lower cost ways.

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We have two kids with ADHD, but she is not one of them. She's never presented with anxiety, though, of course, there are things that she may feel inside that she doesn't tell me.

I'm mainly concerned about how poor habits will impact her in the future. That she is not learning what we've been teaching her for years. My mom was a shopaholic, and I witnessed how that limited her life choices and damaged her credit. I don't want that for DD, but she seems to be on the same kind of path. She was appalled this spring, when we had her add up all of the withdrawls from her bank account, so that she could see the long-term impact of her spending. Yet it didn't change anything.

I know that she has to internalize spending lessons and grow in maturity, and that I can't change her. I'm looking for more ways to help her. Right now, she has financial privileges from us (we pay for her car, gas, car insurance, school tuition and supplies, etc.), and we're thinking of having her pay for some of those things herself. I also have a book to read with her.

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To be honest, I feel like we failed in her financial education in some way, and I'd like to do better.  She was not homeschooled for high school and had her financial literacy class through the school. If anyone has a program that was helpful to go through with their teen, I'd love recommendations.

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6 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

We have two kids with ADHD, but she is not one of them. She's never presented with anxiety, though, of course, there are things that she may feel inside that she doesn't tell me.

I'm mainly concerned about how poor habits will impact her in the future. That she is not learning what we've been teaching her for years. My mom was a shopaholic, and I witnessed how that limited her life choices and damaged her credit. I don't want that for DD, but she seems to be on the same kind of path. She was appalled this spring, when we had her add up all of the withdrawls from her bank account, so that she could see the long-term impact of her spending. Yet it didn't change anything.

I know that she has to internalize spending lessons and grow in maturity, and that I can't change her. I'm looking for more ways to help her. Right now, she has financial privileges from us (we pay for her car, gas, car insurance, school tuition and supplies, etc.), and we're thinking of having her pay for some of those things herself. I also have a book to read with her.

Some of us (ahem....me too) really don't do well with spending on plastic. No shame. It doesn't feel like real money. I get it.

So, I don't use plastic to shop unless it's online and there's no other option. I use cash. Every paycheck, I split up the money for my envelopes and if I'm shopping for groceries, I don't take the clothing envelope unless I plan on going someplace to pick up clothing.

Also, is she balancing her checking account each month? Beccause that would probably help her connect how quickly the little purchases add up. 

 

But honestly, unless she's asking for help, you really should tread lightly. 

It probably is time for her to start paying for more of her expenses. Because if she has no expenses, why on earth wouldn't she shop for fun stuff? 

I have a 19 yo. She paid for her own gently used car, she pays for her insurance, she pays for her own gas. She pays for her phone. We pay for college tuition, she buys her books. 

This shouldn't be phrased as a punishment. It's a natural step toward adulthood so that the idea of paying for needs first is something she's accustomed to. 

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14 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

 

I know that she has to internalize spending lessons and grow in maturity, and that I can't change her. I'm looking for more ways to help her. Right now, she has financial privileges from us (we pay for her car, gas, car insurance, school tuition and supplies, etc.), and we're thinking of having her pay for some of those things herself. I also have a book to read with her.

Having her assume some or part of her expenses is a good way to encourage her to mature. From your list I especially think car insurance and gas are good places to start. 

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If your dd has a summer job and her own bank account, and she isn’t spending money she doesn’t have (credit cards, etc.,) are you sure she’s financially irresponsible, or could she just be having fun with her own money?

Has she ever had to save up for anything? Was she able to do it? If she was, she might be just fine with managing her money, and she’s spending right now because she’s still a carefree teenager. 

I can understand why she tried to hide her purchase from you. If you made her actually count the number of bras she owns as a teaching moment, I’m not really all that surprised that she didn’t want you to know what she spent her money on. I know you meant well and were trying to prove a point, but I doubt it accomplished what you were hoping it would.

I would certainly try to make sure she’s not spending money she doesn’t have, and I would encourage her to build her savings, but I don’t think I would assume that she can’t manage her money because she’s spending her summer job earnings on things she likes. I do understand why you would be extra-sensitive to her behaviors, though, because of your experiences with your own mom, and if you think your dd truly is following along in that path, I agree with you that some kind of money management training could be very helpful to her. Does she know that her grandma had spending problems? What does she think about that?

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If she's hiding her spending from you then either YOU have a serious problem or SHE does. In either case, the serious problem is not something that is solved by more oversight over your adult child's spending habits, unless she has specifically asked for that.

If she hasn't asked for help, you need to back off.

If she has, then honestly... it might an issue that needs a professional to help with, because hiding things after asking for help is a bad sign.

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I think a distinction needs to be made between a 19-year old who has a job and spending money making choices of how to spend that money that are different than the choices I would make or that I would like to see them make and a 19-year old who is getting herself into a financial crisis by spending money she does not have.  When my children were late teens, I would not have discussed an appropriate budget for a gift that they were buying with their money for friend, unless they asked. If they wanted be very generous with the money that they had earned that would be their decision.  If she is not in debt, and meeting all of the financial obligations that she has in front of her, then I think I would try to accept her spending as her decision, although I might wish it were a different decision.  

I think it is perfectly reasonable to have a 19-year old have some financial responsiblities, like gasoline, insurance, a portion of school tuition, or whatever is the right balance for your family's values and financial situation.  I would suggest making that a clear and specific expectation of how she is to share in her expenses and not as a punishment for spending money on things that you do not think she needs.  If there is something specific you would like to see her save money for or spend money on, I would try coming up with an incentive to her for doing so--something like any money she places in a specific savings account, you will add 20% after six months or if for every $1 she saves for an educational trip you will match.

If she is spending more money than she has and running up debt, that is another issue.  Or, if she seems to be accummulating/hoarding (she has 40 bras with the tags still on them) the emotional reasons for that probably need to be addressed rather than just trying to control spending.

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What household expenses is she required to contribute toward? 
I found with mine, that when they had money but not specific expenses, budgeting didn’t mean much. Once they had bills to pay or something big to save for, budgeting made more sense,

As long as she is meeting any required expenses, I would not judge the quality or reasonableness of her purchases. Different people have different things they they like to spend money on. Someone might think what I spend on Sentsy is unnecessary in the same way I think spending on some other items is unnecessary.

When mine needed help with budgeting and didn’t want to take instruction from Mom, I gave her a copy of a Dave Ramsey book. She is doing better with the envelope system than I ever did.

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This is hard because even though she is 19 and it is her money, unless she is financially independent it is still wrapped up in the family. Most 19 yos are not fully independent. If she is, then sure, stay out of it. However, what do you do when it is technically her money because she earned it, and she is technically an adult, but if she has an unexpected expense come up the family is still her safety net? My 19 yos were in school and could still count on us to help with a car repair or medical expenses or necessary school items they couldn't afford or whatever. So how do you stay out of your 19 yo burning through cash when you are still the safety net? I'm not sure that is the situation in OP but it has been the situation in my house.

Luckily, my kids have not been spenders but we would have had a problem if they were. Our arrangement has been for them to work and save and cover as many of their school and personal expenses as they could, and then dh and I would come along and make up the difference. This has worked great so far. However, it wouldn't have if one of them had been a big spender. Because it would have felt like (and essentially would have been) them spending family money. I guess it would have called for very firm boundaries about what expenses we would help with and what we would not. I'm glad it didn't come to that because life is fluid and situations are fluid and it worked better to have flexability with those things. 

I don't have any advice. Just posting to note that caring about how your 19 yo spends is not necessarily controling depending on the family setup. 

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2 hours ago, Storygirl said:

 

I know that she has to internalize spending lessons and grow in maturity, and that I can't change her. I'm looking for more ways to help her. Right now, she has financial privileges from us (we pay for her car, gas, car insurance, school tuition and supplies, etc.), and we're thinking of having her pay for some of those things herself. I also have a book to read with her.

With ds20 we gave him a year after high school before we had him pay his car insurance and phone and health insurance.  Then another year before we started charging rent. He is working full time though and not in school at all. 

So I think what I am thinking is.....did you plan to pay those expenses until she finishes college?  If so, I don't think you should start making her pay just because she spends money that you consider irresponsible. (and I am not saying you are wrong).  

The best example I have is that xh and I agreed that we would pay the same amount to ds21 while he is in college whether he got married or not.  I know people, including XH, who were cut off by their parents when they got married.  We aren't supporting him MORE but not less either.  

Beyond that I would say just keep talking to her.  That is what I do with ds20.  

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Doesn't sound like she's had to be financially responsible, so why would she be?  I'd at least start with her paying for her gas.  There's really no reason for her not too.  It's a good move towards adulthood and the real world anyway.   Will teach her to save and budget a bit.  

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For a 19 year old that had their own money/source of income?  I would absolutely start handing off expenses to them.  Gas would be good, going out with friends, books at college, or whatever is coming down the line.  

Like if she wasn't working but was doing summer school, interning, volunteering, using time well, I'd have no issue covering expenses for that kid.  But a kid that had a job and was burning through money on frivolous things?  Yep, time to sit down and talk about expenses going forward and what she will be responsible for.  This is actually very much how it worked for me and by the time I got my first professional job I was on my feet and paying for all my own expenses.  

My oldest is 20 and he is great.  I have a feeling we're going to need to be more mindful with my daughter but we have a couple years until she goes to college. 

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70 bras? And she bought more?

I don’t know what is going on but that stands out to me. Unless bras are just her “thing” I would be worried about compulsive spending, compulsive shopping, hoarding and I’d try to research those things and see if she has other identifiers.

does she have an excessive number shoes and sneakers? Other clothing items? Makeup? Candles? Lotions? Etc...I’m sure you get where I’m going with this.

has she dealt with or is she dealing with depression?

Has she ever regretted purchases, more than once? Not remembered buying things? Been surprised to find stuff in her room that she forgot she had? Double purchased things?

19 is an adult...but does she have the financial skills and knowledge she needs for adulthood?  (you’ve been asking that question of yourself, I get that). I just don’t see writing her off to sink or swim bc she is 19.

good luck

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5 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

Gently,

She's hiding her purchases from you.  This isn't a good sign.  Your adult child should not feel as though you have say over her spending.  Your point of view isn't acceptable here. 

I get it with the long term/changing habits.  Oldest ds has mostly been a good spender in his adulting, but we made the decision a long time ago to be super open about our finances.  He knows:

-how much income we have
-monthly bills
-how we set goals
-how we manage spending accounts
-how we consider quarterly/annual payments like sports, taxes, etc.

He has access to all of this information and it helps him develop his own plan because he has seen it work long term.

That said, what you have isn't a spending problem.  A person who buys an overabundance doesn't have a spending problem, they have an emotional satisfaction problem.  Buying gives us a high.  For some, it's more than others.  It's a way to find happiness in that moment, but it wears off.  Your problem isn't the spending, it's how to develop habits to get that emotional satisfaction in healthier ways.  Some of that is going to be part of growing up, having to balance responsibilities and being forced into it.  Some of it may be able to be gently redirected.  But that's going to require the person to recognize the issue and meet it in healthier or lower cost ways.

This.

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5 hours ago, Storygirl said:

Right now, she has financial privileges from us (we pay for her car, gas, car insurance, school tuition and supplies, etc.), and we're thinking of having her pay for some of those things herself.

I agree with the others, it is time for her to start paying for at least some of this on her own. I don't see splurges here and there while you're young, carefree and lacking true responsibilities to be a problem but if she has enough money to splurge all the time, then something needs to change before it becomes a habit. You can't teach someone who doesn't want to be taught through, especially an adult.

I paid for my own car, gas, insurance, clothing, food while not at home, school supplies and more from the time I had a steady job at 16. My parents would contribute now and then but it was a gift, not an expectation. It's not unusual for college students to pay for some or all of these things.

I see in your siggy that she is an "exercise science" major. So while I would consider a healthy amount of sports bras a need for her, 70 is excessive. Rather than making this about money, I would  have her look at the care and upkeep of her 70 bras. Does she even wear all of them? Could she get rid of some that she doesn't wear any more? Perhaps donate them to a women's shelter? I imagine more than a few are in like new condition and able to be donated. What is a reasonable number of bras for her situation. Let her figure it out and guide her gently (don't lecture or try to tell her how exactly).

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She sounds like me. If she's just frivolous with the money that she has, then let her be. You have done your job she may be just a spender as opposed to a saver. You can make her contribute more to her life by making her give you money for things or buying her own necessities too, then she'll have less money to spend.  

The part that makes her sound more like me than a random irresponsible teen is the hiding. For me the hiding comes from me knowing it's a "shopping addiction" and not an I want more pretty bras. I've taken plenty of classes on budgeting and what-not they don't ever work for me, because they address the spending within my means part (I'm actually good at by always making enough) not the part that is the struggle which is the addiction. What has helped me is the realization that my spending habits is an addiction and to treat it as such.  

If you suspect addiction is the case rather than she sucks at budgeting. I would try to get her to dig deeper into why she really did it. If it's an addiction she didn't splurge on the bras because she even wanted them. She just "needed" to buy them. I would work on getting her to a place where she feels safe to not hide her purchases. Feeling safe doesn't mean you have to condone the spending, just that you realize the issue is not that she's a horrible person but that she has an issue that you want to help her resolve.

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5 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

Your adult child should not feel as though you have say over her spending.

My Dd18 is not a big spender, but I absolutely have a say over her spending. And will until we are no longer supporting her. Money can only be spent once and every dollar that we spend on her is a dollar we can't spend on her minor siblings. We are happy to help pay for college and car insurance and sometimes gas. She can use some of the money she earns for fun, but a moderate amount.

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15 minutes ago, Meriwether said:

My Dd18 is not a big spender, but I absolutely have a say over her spending. And will until we are no longer supporting her. Money can only be spent once and every dollar that we spend on her is a dollar we can't spend on her minor siblings. We are happy to help pay for college and car insurance and sometimes gas. She can use some of the money she earns for fun, but a moderate amount.

I would argue that you have the ability to control your spending, but not hers. If she purchases things you don't agree with, you can refuse to cover her expenses. But you actually don't get to tell an adult how to spend her own money.  Of course if she allows you to decide, that's up to her. 

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Families have different cultures. In some, 18 year olds are considered autonomous adults, and in others, parents still have a huge role. I'd rather this thread not devolve into debates about this, and that we all respect various opinions that are offered. I personally can learn from people who don't see things exactly the way that I do, so I'm willing to listen to each of you.

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1 hour ago, Clarita said:

She sounds like me. If she's just frivolous with the money that she has, then let her be. You have done your job she may be just a spender as opposed to a saver. You can make her contribute more to her life by making her give you money for things or buying her own necessities too, then she'll have less money to spend.  

The part that makes her sound more like me than a random irresponsible teen is the hiding. For me the hiding comes from me knowing it's a "shopping addiction" and not an I want more pretty bras. I've taken plenty of classes on budgeting and what-not they don't ever work for me, because they address the spending within my means part (I'm actually good at by always making enough) not the part that is the struggle which is the addiction. What has helped me is the realization that my spending habits is an addiction and to treat it as such.  

If you suspect addiction is the case rather than she sucks at budgeting. I would try to get her to dig deeper into why she really did it. If it's an addiction she didn't splurge on the bras because she even wanted them. She just "needed" to buy them. I would work on getting her to a place where she feels safe to not hide her purchases. Feeling safe doesn't mean you have to condone the spending, just that you realize the issue is not that she's a horrible person but that she has an issue that you want to help her resolve.

I suspect the hiding has less to do with struggle with addiction and more to do with not wanting to hear mom lecture about spending. 

The OP has had multiple conversations about spending with her daughter that read to me to be over the top (sorry, OP, I don't mean that rudely 😬), especially making her count out her bras and discussing how much she should be spending on a gift. I do understand that these could be casual conversations, but the fact that she's hiding it says that it's gotten uncomfortable and you should probably back off a bit. I agree that it would be good to have her start taking care of her own expenses at home. You'll probably find after that this issue may resolve itself!

I know at that age I had a similar issue with my parents but it was shirts, not bras, and my parents kept on making comments about my constant purchases of shirts ("you don't need more tops!") but it was my money to spend and I wanted to so I didn't want to listen and brought my packages in when my parents weren't home. I didn't have an addiction, I just didn't want to answer to my parents and avoided conflict.

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I think I would have to her cover more of her expenses, not as a punishment, but because she needs to practice this before she's making big money mistakes while independent from you.

Would having her help you (or your DH) pay the family bills with your money help her see the potential in saving or for having and sticking to a spending plan? I'm thinking a nuts and bolts session focused on your spending needs/habits as a mentoring thing. I am considering this with my 17 y.o. just because it's practical, and not over any current spending issues.

It does sound like an emotional need to me too, but I don't think that having some influence over a young adult's finances when you're supporting them is out of line. Like another poster said, control and influence aren't necessarily the same. 

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Posted (edited)

70 bras is a lot. Does she have issues with knowing how many of each item she has? For example my husband has a tendency to overbuy groceries and his vitamins because he doesn’t remember what we have. My husband is really bad in general at inventory count/stocktake.
 

I have friends who are shopaholic. They have this compulsive need to buy something when they go shopping, groceries don’t count. Maybe that was how your mother shop. 
 

I think it depends on why she is working. I started temping after high school to gain job experience and build up my resume. As someone from a middle income family, job experience was a way to prove that I am capable of working. My parents didn’t need my earnings so if they have suddenly ask me to contribute to family expenses just because I spent “frivolously”, I would be annoyed. My in-laws have always stated they need their kids earnings for family expenses and that kids need to pay part of their college tuition and expenses, so it is a different scenario. 

Edited by Arcadia
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2 hours ago, importswim said:

I suspect the hiding has less to do with struggle with addiction and more to do with not wanting to hear mom lecture about spending. 

The OP has had multiple conversations about spending with her daughter that read to me to be over the top (sorry, OP, I don't mean that rudely 😬), especially making her count out her bras and discussing how much she should be spending on a gift. I do understand that these could be casual conversations, but the fact that she's hiding it says that it's gotten uncomfortable and you should probably back off a bit. I agree that it would be good to have her start taking care of her own expenses at home. You'll probably find after that this issue may resolve itself!

I know at that age I had a similar issue with my parents but it was shirts, not bras, and my parents kept on making comments about my constant purchases of shirts ("you don't need more tops!") but it was my money to spend and I wanted to so I didn't want to listen and brought my packages in when my parents weren't home. I didn't have an addiction, I just didn't want to answer to my parents and avoided conflict.

OP didn't say who initiated the conversation about the gift budget, but it is not over the top to have those kinds of discussions. Right here on this very forum there have been many "reasonable amount" gift budget discussions and questions over the years for every imaginable gifting occasion.

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2 hours ago, importswim said:

I know at that age I had a similar issue with my parents

We had that here until we let it go. Dd would make purchases because she knew dh didn't want her to. Eventually she got a credit card so he couldn't see what she was purchasing. He could only see the amount. It was her way of rebelling and it was a difficult transition to her autonomy.

When it was time for each of our kids to start budgeting their own bills, we told them they would put the bills in their name and pay it, but we would continue to put money to cover their bills in their checking accounts. The first to go was the cell phone, They were responsible for ensuring the bill was paid, but each month we deposited money to cover their cost. Next was the car. We reimbursed them for maintaining the car, but they had to set everything up where they live. Eventually, we signed it over to them and they had to find their own auto insurance policy (with our assistance). We then transferred that money to them monthly. We pay a little less each year of college with the goal of no financial assistance after graduation from college. We're 2 out of 3 and it seems to be working well.

Doing this allows them to create and keep a budget. Some of them didn't have a regular job, so even without the extra spending money, they could see where their money was going and how they wanted to handle it. The dd who pushed back hard had a job throughout college and had the spending money she wanted. She felt because she earned it, she should be able to spend it the way she wanted to. She was right, but it was difficult to back off and let her make her own choices. Now, she does very well creating and following a budget.

(Totally as an aside, record keeping for budgeting is so different than when dh and I were young adults. My kids check their bank accounts frequently and know how much to spend based on the available balance. It scares me to think there could be a large withdrawal they forgot to account for when figuring how much they have to spend.)

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I've got an 18 year old who is just starting to spend her own money and its been kinda hard to decide who pays for what.  We want her to use her own money for spending money, but at the same time its frustrating when you see silly purchases.  I see several issues here.

1.  Over-buying- I cannot fathom 70 bras!  We have a lot of people in our house, and I've always used lists for clothing needs.  Every Spring and Fall I go through the clothes, count types of outfits and decide what types of clothes and shoes are needed.  They do get to buy their own clothes,  but generally prefer me to buy 😉 I don't just buy whatever they want, I need a list that makes sense.  It would be a good idea to catalog types of clothes, just so she knows what she has and can better identify what types of clothing she needs.  This doesn't have to be a punishment- my college age DD and I made a list a month or so ago.  When we go shop, we know she needs no nice dresses or shorts.   She does need some specific types of shoes, nice tops and t-shirt (plus more- I'm really slacking in the clothes buying department).  As for who buys- I buy necessities- tennis shoes, jean shorts- and at the price I feel comfortable.  Extras she buys.  If she wants shoes out of my budget, she pays the overage.  The goal should be planned purchases that make sense.

2.  Why is she buying?  I think its vital that she figures this out- for herself.   If its impulse buys, she can return things with tags.  If its hoarding,  that needs addressed.  If its cluelessness, the list above should help.

3.  She needs a direction for her money.  If its not bills (sounds like you are paying for most of the bills), then she needs a direct thing she is saving for- Goals she can meet. 

I dont think its fair to just say she is 19, none of your business.  It sounds like she still needs guidance in this area.  If she doesn't want to hear it from you, find her a class.  

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10 hours ago, Storygirl said:

Right now, she has financial privileges from us (we pay for her car, gas, car insurance, school tuition and supplies, etc.), and we're thinking of having her pay for some of those things herself.

I think that’s a great idea. I think fiscal responsibility just doesn’t mean much when kids don’t have to pay their own way. College is so expensive these days that kids aren’t independent for years later than what was common when We were their age. But if she has that much free money to spend, she can certainly pay more of her expenses and head on that road of more independence. A question I read in a book recently suggested asking whether the behavior is something we as parents are enabling. It’s made me rethink some things.

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Is there any possibiity that if she was with friends shopping for a wedding shower gift and came home with Victoria's Secret bras that the friends are planning a lingerie shower and they were for the bride-to-be?

I would have difficulty understanding why if she was intentionally sneaking a purchase into the house that she left the receipt somewhere that you would find it and look at the details of what the receipt was for.  If she were trying to sneak a purchase, it seems to me that she would leave the receipt in the bag (that she was hiding from you), someplace like in her wallet, or throw it in the trash.  Did she leave the receipt somewhere so that it would easily be seen?

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Does she have any specific savings goals, and is she meeting them fairly appropriately?  From the financial angle, that would be my only concern.  If she doesn’t have a set goal (car, tuition, launch money, etc.) or typical young adult expenses (gas, insurance, phone, etc.), then why would she or anyone else think her money should be spent a certain way?

70 bras is pretty nuts to me, but I keep 200 loads of laundry detergent and buy lip stains that I NEVER use, so who the heck am I? I meet my obligations and goals, and the rest is up to me (and dh, to some extent.)

In our household, we’ve touched base with the big kids, asking how their savings goals were going, but we’ve never looked at their accounts. They’ve always paid their bills to us (insurance and phones mostly) and, thus far, got to their goals eventually. I never cared about what they were doing with the rest of their money as long as they still had the important stuff handled. 

If $40 bras aren’t taking away from a more important need, then there technically isn’t a financial problem.

As a not-minimalist-just-lessist, my concern would be more about materialist/hoarding behavior. (I’m not saying that in a clinical sense.)

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16 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

If she's hiding her spending from you then either YOU have a serious problem or SHE does. In either case, the serious problem is not something that is solved by more oversight over your adult child's spending habits, unless she has specifically asked for that.

If she hasn't asked for help, you need to back off.

If she has, then honestly... it might an issue that needs a professional to help with, because hiding things after asking for help is a bad sign.

You bring up some really good points.

I think the question here might also be - if someone has SEVENTY of something (70!) and then compulsively buys several more, is that pointing to an issue of compulsive spending or that she needs to realize when buying is good and when to say, "Oh, I really love that thing but I don't need it.  Why do I feel like I need it?"

I disagree on the back off and I think we have a responsibility to our kids to advise well - assuming they are not grown and flown.  This doesn't have an age distinction.  Ironically, I'm seeing correlation to the "spouse/snappy wife thread." It's ironic that I said, "Don't say anything," over there and I'm saying, "SAY SOMETHING!" here and I see a few others who reversed their stance in this scenario and I wonder why that is?

I see a young adult at home, without bills, as someone who is still preparing to leave the nest.  Thus, they still need flying lessons.  
I think I'd set up some bills for her to pay (phone, insurance) with due dates and see how that goes?

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4 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

You bring up some really good points.

I think the question here might also be - if someone has SEVENTY of something (70!) and then compulsively buys several more, is that pointing to an issue of compulsive spending or that she needs to realize when buying is good and when to say, "Oh, I really love that thing but I don't need it.  Why do I feel like I need it?"

I disagree on the back off and I think we have a responsibility to our kids to advise well - assuming they are not grown and flown.  This doesn't have an age distinction.  Ironically, I'm seeing correlation to the "spouse/snappy wife thread." It's ironic that I said, "Don't say anything," over there and I'm saying, "SAY SOMETHING!" here and I see a few others who reversed their stance in this scenario and I wonder why that is?

I see a young adult at home, without bills, as someone who is still preparing to leave the nest.  Thus, they still need flying lessons.  
I think I'd set up some bills for her to pay (phone, insurance) with due dates and see how that goes?

I was against saying anything in the spouse/snappy wife thread because they have already "left and cleft" (is that the past tense of leave and cleave?).  And because a husband and wife are now a couple - a unit - who should be working out their differences together.

I was against saying anything in this case before I saw that it was so many bras.  Bras (at least for my well-endowed figure) are very expensive.  Even $40 x 70 comes out to $2800!  But it's still not about spending in my mind.  70 bras means that you would go over two months without ever having to repeat wearing a bra.  And it seems like a "collection" at this point and not simply a wardrobe item.  (But I have to confess that I don't understand people who collect shoes or handbags either so maybe I am just lacking fashion gene or something. )  But if it is simply a collection of bras and not a compulsion or in some way related to anxiety, hoarding etc. then I guess people can have big collections of all sorts of things as long as they can afford them. 

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7 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

I was against saying anything in this case before I saw that it was so many bras.  Bras (at least for my well-endowed figure) are very expensive.  Even $40 x 70 comes out to $2800!  But it's still not about spending in my mind.  70 bras means that you would go over two months without ever having to repeat wearing a bra.  And it seems like a "collection" at this point and not simply a wardrobe item.  (But I have to confess that I don't understand people who collect shoes or handbags either so maybe I am just lacking fashion gene or something. )  But if it is simply a collection of bras and not a compulsion or in some way related to anxiety, hoarding etc. then I guess people can have big collections of all sorts of things as long as they can afford them. 

I agree, but it seems an odd collection. 

I think this is a great way to put it into perspective, but I think it's worth finding out why bras and why so many. If it's not really a goal of her DD to collect them, then she might need some guidance on how to stop.

I like the creative ideas on how people transition their kids to adult financial responsibility. To chip in, this is what I was responsible for while I was in college: 

  • All spending money
  • Phone bill/long-distance calling card (before cell phones)
  • Clothing and money for laundry
  • Dorm furnishings (much of which came from graduation money)
  • Gas
  • Car upkeep unless there was a really $$$ emergency I wouldn't have been able to cover (but didn't pay insurance); pretty sure I didn't ever need money for repairs, even a pricey one, but it was always good to know that I had backup
  • I paid the sales tax on the used car my parents bought, but they bought it and later transferred it to me when I graduated/married (I didn't want to transfer all that stuff and then have to change it again to plates in a different state, change my name, etc., so we did it all at once)
  • Books and extra fees for classes
  • When I moved off campus, I paid my rent (more details below)
  • Summer expenses when I had an internship (rent, food, etc.) 

Permission to live off campus when I was in school was narrowly granted (and there wasn't a lot of off-campus housing available). I did attend part-time my last two years of college, and the very last year, I lived off campus and paid my own rent, food, etc. My parents paid tuition the entire time as it wasn't extra classes, just extra time.

I had summer jobs (some not that lucrative and/or PT), a job on campus starting partway through my sophomore year, and a summer internship in my field (paid). If I had made more money, I would've probably paid for more stuff.

I think my brother had slightly more responsibility than I did for his expenses, but he also had (much) more lucrative/stable work earlier on than I did with more hours, and he tended to be spend more money. 

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22 hours ago, fraidycat said:

OP didn't say who initiated the conversation about the gift budget, but it is not over the top to have those kinds of discussions. Right here on this very forum there have been many "reasonable amount" gift budget discussions and questions over the years for every imaginable gifting occasion.

You're right! I was thinking that in isolation that kind of conversation would be okay but was reading into the OP's presentation of it along with a few other instances of what I'd consider meddling in an adults' affairs. However, I was probably wrong in reading into that. ☺️

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We talked, early and often, about what they could generally expect us to pay for in college. For us, that was everything school-related, including computers, plus routine things like hygiene items, needed clothing, and so on. 

They were responsible for their spending money and non-routine extras. We did not, and do not, interfere with how they spend the money they earn. I don't think it's fair to say we're willing and able to pay, but not if you buy things we think are silly or wasteful or not needed. If my dd works and makes enough to pay for what mom considers way too many visits to the tattoo/piercing shop and the vintage clothing store, well, so be it. I don't think it would be fair to change the rules midstream because she's not spending her spending money the way I would. Of course, your family may not have set those same assumptions in place (paying for x, y, and z throughout college). 

On 7/8/2021 at 10:03 PM, Jean in Newcastle said:

I had missed the 70 bras on my first reading.  70 of anything seems to go into hoarding or addictive behavior - at least a strong possibility of such.  I think that perhaps that needs to be addressed more than the spending habits. 

Of anything? I admit I've never heard of such an extensive bra collection, lol, but I know plenty of people who own more than 70 of a certain thing: DVDs, video games, makeup items, shirts, books, stuffed animals, jewelry, skeins of yarn, all kinds of things.  

And, while 70 is still a lot, I see a lot of college-aged people on the regular, and it's very common for a bra to be a meant-to-be-seen part of the outfit. It's more of a clothing item than 'just' a bra. 

On 7/8/2021 at 12:50 PM, Storygirl said:

I'm mainly concerned about how poor habits will impact her in the future. That she is not learning what we've been teaching her for years. My mom was a shopaholic, and I witnessed how that limited her life choices and damaged her credit. I don't want that for DD, but she seems to be on the same kind of path. She was appalled this spring, when we had her add up all of the withdrawls from her bank account, so that she could see the long-term impact of her spending. Yet it didn't change anything.

I know that she has to internalize spending lessons and grow in maturity, and that I can't change her. I'm looking for more ways to help her. Right now, she has financial privileges from us (we pay for her car, gas, car insurance, school tuition and supplies, etc.), and we're thinking of having her pay for some of those things herself. I also have a book to read with her.

Try to keep the trauma of your mom's story separate from your dd. Might she do the same things? Yes, she might, but (as you know) that's not something you can control. If you've been teaching her for years, she may just have more of a spender personality, or she may just be enjoying some frivilous spending that you don't understand, and she'll mature out of it. I would be really hesitant about reading a book with her; that kind of thing is pretty hard for most young adults to accept with grace. And, as you've been teaching her these things for years, I don't think reading a book at 19 is going to make the difference, so I don't think it's worth the possible resentment and/or dismissiveness that might result. 

If you want to go the route of having her pay some expenses, then I would quit talking about how she spend her money. Like, right now. Not another word. Then, in a bit, maybe when school starts, you can go over what you will be paying for her. "Okay, this is your junior year. For the fall semester, we're going to continue paying this and that, but you will take over buying gas for your car. In the spring, we'll add car insurance to that, and then we'll talk about senior year." 

 

On 7/8/2021 at 3:44 PM, teachermom2834 said:

 So how do you stay out of your 19 yo burning through cash when you are still the safety net?  

You can either tell them, early and often, that you are not going to be their safety net, or you can be their safety net and simply have them pay you back. 

On 7/8/2021 at 8:12 PM, importswim said:

I know at that age I had a similar issue with my parents but it was shirts, not bras, and my parents kept on making comments about my constant purchases of shirts ("you don't need more tops!") but it was my money to spend and I wanted to so I didn't want to listen and brought my packages in when my parents weren't home. I didn't have an addiction, I just didn't want to answer to my parents and avoided conflict.

Agree that this is pretty likely. I never bought too much of any one thing, really, but I had some interests that no one in my family shared or understood. So, I would definitely buy things on the down low, even though there wouldn't be any conflict about it - I simply didn't want anyone taking away some of my fun by asking why on earth I wanted such and such, lol. 

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There is a popular app called YNAB.  You Need A Budget.  
Many many people have found it so helpful.  The basic idea is that  you spend the money available in your budget.  So you get a paycheck (to be budgeted), then assign those dollars to categories you have set up- your needs get budgeted first- rent, utilities, gas, car insurance etc.  Then allot some dollars to repairs/new tires/emergencies.  Then allot dollars to clothes, dining out, vacations etc.

when you go to spend, check your category, make sure the money is there, spend it and then write the transaction in.

it gives an awesome and easy to use visual of your needs and wants and spending.  Well worth the annual fee.  There’s a Facebook page of ynab users you can ask questions to.

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