Sunday, August 14, 2016

Make Teens Ask For Reimbursement Instead of Paying Expenses Directly

Reimbursement Receipt

“Dad, the total was $13.55. Please reimburse me $11.45 for the shampoo and the pasta. The $2.10 part was for the ice cream bar I ate, so I’ll pick that up.”

“Sounds good. Just made the reimbursement transfer.”

What just happened there?

Yes, I pay for a lot of my older teen’s everyday expenses. Even though he has savings from a summer job. And I’m happy to do so, like most parents.

But, I want to make absolutely sure my son knows exactly how much those everyday items cost. Even if I pay for them. Financial ignorance might feel like bliss now, but it sure won’t later.

How do I make sure he’s fully mindful of the money I’m spending?

  • Make him spend it first.
  • Make him itemize the expenses.
  • Make him formally request a reimbursement after subtracting out any items or portions of items we’ve agreed are his responsibility.

Only then will I send him money to cover — or partially cover — the transaction.

So what’s covered? I might fully cover toiletries, partially cover the gym membership, and not cover entertainment at all. You might have an entirely different set of rules. Do what makes sense for your situation.

No, your teens may not be able to afford everyday items yet, but they still need to learn exactly how much those items cost.

Make teens active participants in the everyday expenses you’re picking up. That way, they’ll know — and appreciate — the real value of a dollar when the day comes for everything to be on their nickel.

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  1. Great tip, Bill! We're going to implement a version of this. When my daughter makes the choice to go to a cafe to do homework with a friend, we want to cover the friend's expense because other parents entertain our kids and, of course, don't take our money when we offer it. We've worked cafe trips into our daughter's allowance, though, so she's responsible for her own expense. She can spend her money and then request a reimbursement for the portion she covers for her friend.


    1. I think that's a perfect reimbursement scenario, John. Thanks for sharing that example.