June 24, 2009
Plan A Party BudgetWith Your Teen (Yes, It’s Possible)
Planning a bar or bat mitzvah can be stressful enough, but add difficult economic times and it can be a downright frightening and challenging time emotionally. Let’s face it — communicating with a teenager is not easy in the first place, but add high expectations for their big day and it may be nearly impossible.
Have your teens make a list of what is most important to them and help them understand what part of the budget can be spent on X or Y, allowing them choice throughout the process on how they want to spend certain “soft costs,” like decorations, catering or a DJ.
Opening up the financial decision-making process will help get their creative juices flowing on how to budget money. Maybe they would like to make the centerpieces and be able to reallocate the saved money toward a DJ or a charity. As parents we will need to give up some control to allow our children to gain a true appreciation of budgeting a major family event like a bar or bat mitzvah. In this way each family member learns throughout this process.
If you are like many families stretching to make ends meet, here are some great ways to communicate with your teens about money and our country’s current recession:
Talk about what you are seeing in our economy and have your teen discuss what they are seeing and experiencing in the media. Ask them how they feel about all of this and what they are worried about. Use this time to discuss your family’s own economic situation.
At a later date check in with your teen about your conversation regarding the economy and see if they have any other thoughts about it or any other worries that may have crept up since the conversation.
Don’t overwhelm them with nitty-gritty details, because they do need to have a sense of security and stability in their home life. We want our children to feel empowered to change their own spending habits and how they view money without causing anxiety that could be detrimental.
Work together as a family for your financial future. Together come up with ways that the family can save money. If the kids want a big-ticket item, have them work for it. Maybe you let them do the gardening to earn money, rather than keep the gardener. Rather than eating out and going to the movies, you might start a “family game and make your own pizza” night to encourage saving and family unity. Be a good financial role model for your children. Our kids learn messages from our actions as much as our words. They should see us plan, save and spend money in a wise manner.
As parents, the bar or bat mitzvah experience can be used to help our teens understand how important it is to be fiscally responsible and how to stretch limited resources. It can also be a time for the whole family to work together as a team for one wonderful common goal — a spiritual, fun and on-budget celebration.
Michelle Golland (drmichellegolland.com) is a relationship expert and has a private practice in Hollywood. She has appeared on Larry King Live, HLN, ABC and Fox News, and is a contributor to momlogic.com.