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Dealing With My Daughter’s BIG Milestone

Growth AheadMy oldest daughter, Miss LukeTeen28 (MLT28), is quickly approaching a major milestone. To be honest I’m having difficulty believing my wife and I have reached this point. It seems like only yesterday we were meticulously buckling her into the car seat at the hospital (as only newbie parents can), readying her for the first car ride home.

Boy, did I take that trip carefully.

Now 12 ½ years later, we are about to cross that invisible yet unmistakable line that serves as a right of passage for kids as they grow towards young adulthood. Most parents dread this moment because it signals their child is becoming capable of deciding his or her own path. While I will admit to a certain level of anxiety, I’m really looking forward to it. I want to see how all these years of teaching, training and modeling will play out as she makes decisions.

The right of passage to which I refer has nothing to do with my daughter becoming a teenager though. It’s a much greater issue that will provide her with great lessons as she matures into adulthood. What could possibly be this big a deal for an almost 13 year old?

Making her first BIG purchase with her own money. Here is what she wants:

ipod touchA new iPod Touch.

The Background

The iPod MLT28 currently totes around in her back pocket used to be mine. It’s old…real old as far as technology goes. The software will no longer even update.

To her credit MLT28 has never complained about owning a hand-me-down. She was so excited to get it. At least it brought her a bit closer to the same league as her friends who all sport the newest models. She had a piece of technology for gaming, for reading and for texting. That was quite enough for her.

She never even pressured us for a new one the day she cracked the screen. Instead she kept using it, despite it’s broken display.


About six months ago I had a conversation with her on how to use her savings to plan for special purchases. It’s a basic fundamental of personal finance that every person should understand and I thought she was ready for that lesson. She had begun to accumulate a good amount of money in her savings and it was sitting there, not really having a purpose.

The plan was to divide her savings into categories, giving each one a name so that she could know what the money was designated for. We even taught her how to make a simple pie chart in Excel showing the breakdown of each category. That process was an incredible teaching moment for her and bonding moment for us. She now had goals for her money.

The four categories she divided her money into that day: emergency fund (so proud of that), special trips, car fund (oh boy) and…you guessed it…new iPod.

So she diligently began to save and save and save.

Technology Breakdown

The other day she pops her head into the kitchen as I’m making dinner and says, “Dad, my iPod is broken. It’s not responding when I touch the screen.”

Me: “Did you reset it?”

MLT28: “Yes.”

Me: “No, I mean did you completely turn it off and then back on.”

MLT28: “Yes.”

Me: “Let me see that thing.” I reboot it. “What is your pass code?”

MLT28: “ 9640.”

I type in the pass code. The number spaces are not registering my touch.

Me: “Why did you put a silly pass code on this thing? I can’t get into it now. There is nothing of value in here for anyone to see?”

MLT28: “I don’t know. Everyone does that.”

A few more minutes of playing with the iPod and I come to the inevitable conclusion…it’s finally dead. (If not dead, then beyond my ability – or desire – to fix.)

The moment I announced that conclusion, I heard these words emanate from MLT28’s mouth – “Can I get a new one Dad?”

Shock, Then Awe

Even though I knew she had been saving her money for such a purchase, I was not prepared for that question. How silly…I should have seen it coming a mile away.

“You are going to spend how much on a new one? I don’t think so! No preteen needs to be spending that much on a piece of technology. I sure didn’t at your age.”

As I stood before her in that moment I remembered the Excel pie charts we had created six months ago. The discussions we had about saving for a purpose came rushing back into my memory. I also recalled the multiple trips to the bank to make deposits, the extra jobs she took around the house, and the discipline she demonstrated by not tapping into her funds for other purchases.

To deny her the freedom to use her money in this way would invalidate the very financial management values I had set in motion. How confused would she be then?

“How much are they again honey?”

“Well at the Apple site the 32 GB is $300. But I can get a refurbished one for about $50 less.”

Refurbished. Wow!

She understands more about this money thing than I realized.

You go girl. Buy your iPod. You’ve earned it and then some.

What was your child’s first big purchase they funded entirely on their own? Have you ever taught your child a money principle only to contradict it by your behavior? Do you set aside specific money for specific purposes or do you just lump it all together in savings?

Image #1 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image #2 at fanpop.com

Next Post: I’ll Take Money Over Love

Prior Post: How Couples Can End the Money Fights

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  1. We passed that milestone last year with Little Tre. It’s amazing how quickly they grow up! It sounds like she is learning her financial lessons well. Little Tre is saving for the new Xbox. He was going to buy it over the summer but decided to wait until Black Friday and see if it goes on sale.

  2. Leslie Beslie says

    I just want to point out that the iPod Touch 4th gen no longer is being updated by Apple. And that’s hardly “old”.

  3. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says

    Awesome work, my friend!! TFF Teen, at barely 14, just saved up and purchased, on Ebay, a Sony Vegas computer program. It retails for about $500, but Maddie found a new-in-the-box version for just over $250 on Ebay, and paid for it with her birthday and other saved up cash. Now’s she’s working toward her own refurbished laptop. Smart kids we have here, Brian! 🙂

  4. Well done, Brian!

  5. This Life On Purpose says

    Sounds like your daughter is on the right path to financial success. Has she looked at buying a slightly used one off of Craigslist or equivalent site? Another option for saving some money.

  6. Student Debt Survivor says

    Sounds like a smart cookie. You’ve clearly done all the right financial education with her (use your stuff until it dies, save your money, have an e-fund, buy refurbished). Good work mom and dad!

  7. Good for her! That’s what all that hard work is for after all. My son is still way too young to be making these kinds of decisions, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

  8. We bought my 8-year-old an iPod last year for Christmas. At first I didn’t think much of it, but more and more it has bothered me how free he is to be on the Internet. Both him and his sister are constantly looking things up and downloading apps. More than once we’ve had to step in and pull back on the reins!

    • I work around middle and high school students everyday and it bothers me some times how dependent they have become on technology. It’s leading some of them into poor social habits, poor grades and destructive behaviors. Plus there are so many places to go online that are not productive for their emotional or spiritual health. We have blocked the app store and the internet on her iPod and my son’s DSi. They can only access the internet from our computers at home that are out in the open rooms where we can monitor what they are doing. We also installed filtering software on our home computers that block websites and send us reports of internet activity. No way I’m going to let my kids have internet access in secret without it being monitored.

  9. Shannon Ryan says

    Love, love this, Brian!! Your daughter is going to feel so proud buying her iPod with her own hard-earned money. It sounds like she highly valued her hand-me-down and she is going treat her new one like it’s a piece of gold. 🙂 It’s great that she is already equating hard work with earning money and also already knows to look for the best price. When I see my girls work hard to save for something more expensive, I also know they really want it. They could have bought many other things that maybe didn’t mean much to them but instead they worked hard and remained patient until they could afford what they truly wanted. Great job, Brian!

  10. Hmmm I think I might make this for my wife. She usually cooks because she enjoys it more than I do, but I could surprise her with this. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Awe that was such a sweet story. I’m glad you taught her the value of money and doing crazy pie charts/ I never had that kind of talk with my parents so I don’t think I fully grasped the concept of money at a young age. I would have just begged my parents for one. Of course back in the dark ages technology was a lot cheaper. 🙂

  12. Great story. I had a very similar experience with my 11 year old son when his Nintendo game thingee broke last year. He had saved money from chores, birthdays, and Christmas and was able to purchase a new one himself. Guess what? Since he bought it with his own money he not only treasures it but takes excellent care of it.

  13. Alexa Mason says

    Very sweet. I think you taught her well!

  14. Holly Johnson says

    I think that’s great that she’s willing to buy a refurbished one. She’s already making good decisions!

  15. FI Pilgrim says

    That’s a great story, I love the fact that she’s “budgeting” her savings already. Good job dad! I’ve got a 4-year-old daughter and I shudder to think of what kind of conversations we’ll be having about technology in the next 6-10 years…

    • Monitoring the use and abuse of technology will be one of the top issues parents of today have to deal with. I find it truly amazing how kids are drawn to this stuff and how little parents seem to care that it is having a detrimental impact on kid’s mental and social development. Decide in advance how you want to handle this with your kids and have regular conversations with them about it.


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