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Karl and Heather's Journey:

A Teenager’s Perspective

This week I did something very risky…asked my teenage daughter Shannon to remove her ear buds, stop Sharpie-coloring in her adult coloring book and answer a serious question: How has being in Project Money affected you? 

To my pleasant surprise, she rattled off a number of impacts that are quite serious to a fifteen year old, and that actually resonate with Heather and me. First, is her angst over having to deposit 1/2 of every paycheck into her Summit savings account. It was sheer coincidence that Shannon started her first job within a month of us starting Project Money. So, lucky us, the blame for this is shared equally between the contest and us parents. 

Her second response is the flip-side to the first. She now has her own Summit checking account + debit card to shop online and spend with friends. If you recall from a few blog posts ago, we were victims of identity theft, so our radar for questionable charges is extremely high. So the first time multiple charges for appeared in her online account, we sounded the alarms! Again, to our pleasant surprise, Shannon had researched and found a site that provides the essentials for a teenager (mud masks, tapestries and clothing) at a fraction of retail prices. There is still the backlash of when she shops with friends that have been given a handful cash to ‘spend as they wish,’ but that’s just life. 

Shannon’s third response is one that we all feel…food. The biggest impacts from Project Money is grocery shopping and dining out. We are now shopping with a meal plan for a week or two at a time. The favorite grab-and-go items are still there, but in much less quantity, which helps the weekly budget. Heather’s online research has led to economical, quick and nutritious meals that are all planned out at Thankfully this is also the season for harvesting from our gardens: cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, zucchini and lettuce and finding their way into all of our meals. Finally, dining out has certainly changed. We rarely eat out, but when we do we look for places that are offering a special or deal of some kind. We also now focus on having only one part of a meal when we are all out to eat. For example, if we have dinner out we have dessert at home. We also always bring home any left overs.

So much of Project Money is about instilling financial knowledge within our children, and the brief conversation with Shannon has proved this to be working. Research, making good decisions and sacrifice are things we do (much better than ever before) on a daily basis and are helping bridge our gaps between ‘Happy Family” & “Happy Fiscally Responsible Family.”


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