My son just graduated from college with his degree in business and finance. He just moved into his apartment last week, and he was lucky to have had an internship while he was attending college that decided to hire him on to full-time status. The pay is decent, and luckily my son has no student loan debt because his father and I were able to pay for his tuition. We are proud of him and he seems to be getting off to a good start for living independently.
Although he is off to a great start so far, I am worried about the fact that him making good money is going to his head. He doesn’t shop smart, and I can tell that he is not living below his means. He thinks that he has to buy the brand name of items instead of the cheaper brands that are the exact same thing, which in my opinion means he is paying more than he should be on certain things such as on clothes and at the grocery store. While he was living here, a few years up until he moved, my husband and I tried to teach him about shopping smart when there are sales, using coupons, not borrowing more credit than he needs, and paying bills on time. He seemed to understand the concept of shopping smart, or so I thought…
What can I do to prevent him from making too many mistakes to where he is going to overextend himself, and end up falling behind because he didn’t live below his means? Can I do anything at this point to help him save money or is it too late because he is already out of our house and living on his own?
— Wanting Son to Live Below His Means
Dear Wanting Son to Live Below His Means,
It is never too late to offer any advice to your children, yet you have to realize that no matter how much advice you offer them, in the end it is up to them to make the choice on whether to follow it or not.
It sounds like you and your husband did a great job preparing your son to be financially sound before he left the nest, and the fact that you both paid for his tuition gave him a very generous head start in life. You guys guided him throughout college, he landed his first job successfully, and now he is independently living on his own.
This is the point where you sit back and let him make his own decisions. If he is old and mature enough to graduate college and to land a great job on his own, then you have to trust that he can live on his own as well. You also need to trust that up to this point you have provided him with lessons and teachings and have parented him to the best of your abilities. Now it’s time to see all of your hard work pay off by watching him develop into his adulthood.
Although it is hard to let go of the fact that you are no longer in charge of your son, you have to realize that now you have become his coach and cheerleader. You may have been this for him the whole time already, but now he probably won’t be coming to you about every little problem or concern he has like he may have before, just maybe only the really big things now.
Remember that you can always give your son as much advice as you feel like you should so that at least you are providing tools and resources for him to base his decisions off of. But in the end, his choices are ones that he has to make, which means if there are consequences, then he needs to be responsible to face them at the same time.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at www.myaskmikey.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.