Whether it’s money for tuition, gas, a pair of shoes, going to a movie, or getting into a McNick football game, parents and students often debate on how much money parents should give to their children. Many parents feel that their kids should work to acquire their own cash, while others think they should allow them more time to focus on school and extracurricular activities.
“I have to pay for almost everything, including my car insurance, cell phone bill, and gas money,” senior Kaitlin Kenney said.
While having a job and paying for almost everything teaches responsibility, it can also cause a teenage student to miss out on many high school experiences and opportunities.
“I don’t get to go out with my friends a lot on the weekends, and I’ve had to miss out on a lot of football and basketball games because of work,” Kenney said.
Terrie Kenney, mother of Kaitlin, considers her daughter to be very responsible because of her work commitments and believes it teaches her lessons of time management, budget management, the value of a dollar, and sacrifice. “Kaitlin is a very hard worker and she values the dollar and knows the harder she works the more she will be rewarded both financially and at a personal level,” Terrie said. “She works two jobs because her responsibilities and commitments increased, so she needed to make more monthly.”
Students who work and manage their own money are taught many life skills that students who don’t work might never learn. Not paying for anything in high school can be problematic since a teen might rely on their parents too much, especially when they enter college. It is necessary for students to learn proper money management skills, preferably before graduating high school, since living on their own is a much different situation.
In college, parents aren’t always around to give their kids money for gas, groceries, or weekend money. Students often have to take out loans or get a part-time job in order to pay for the necessities while they’re away.
“Going to college is definitely a wakeup call when it comes to money,” 2011 McNicholas graduate Lauren Schenz said. “I’m glad I had a job in high school, because a lot of my friends don’t know how to spend their money in college without their parents help.”
There is a balance that teens and parents can find in order to find the closest solution possible: Parents pay for the necessities while students pay for things they don’t really need, like an iPod, new clothes, or movie tickets.
For example, tuition, food, and gas are all necessities. If parents want to send their child to a private school, it’s their responsibility to pay for it. Otherwise the child should be able to choose whether or not they go to a public or private school if they’re required to pay.
Also, if a teenager gets his license, that should not mean he suddenly has to pay for his own gas. If the teen didn’t get the license in the first place, would he have to pay his parents gas money to take him everywhere? Probably not. Therefore, parents should allow their teens a certain amount of gas money each week, depending on the outside-of-home activities and responsibilities they have to manage.
“I have a job, but since my parents don’t want me working all of the time they don’t mind occasionally giving me gas money or money to go out on the weekends,” senior Emily Forsthoefel said.
Another solution would be for parents to give their teen an allowance each week, as long as they do what they’re told, get good grades, and help out around the house. Through this method, teens are given a little more freedom to use their extra money to spend on whatever they want. This not only teaches money management, but puts less pressure on the teen having to pay for everything.
“This is a really special time in a teenager’s life, and I don’t want [Emily] to miss the memories she’s able to create right now,” Emily’s mother Julie Forsthoefel said. “You also have to put everything in moderation.”