Teen on A Budget: The Milk Update

Those of y’all following the teenager on a budget saga remember Monday my son only bought a half gallon of milk, smugly convinced HE wasn’t the one who was drinking all the milk in the house.  It didn’t take long for him to realize just how wrong he was about his milk consumption.  Hubby and I have been watching (with amusement) this situation to see if the Teenager could come up with a decent resolution on his own, since the boy only had two dollars left over from his allocated grocery money.

We adults know that if you don’t have sufficient funds in the grocery category, some money gets pulled out of discretionary funds (also known as “fun money”) because food is always more important than nonessentials.  Hubby and I have been watching for some sign that my son has learned this.

Thursday my son asked if I would take him to the post office so he could mail a gift (long story, don’t ask).  I instead volunteered to take him to the grocery store so he wouldn’t have to suffer the shock of how much a convenience store charges for milkMy son replied that if he bought milk, he wouldn’t have enough money to mail his gift.  Since I disagreed with the boy’s order of priorities, I didn’t take him to the post office (and he did not want to go to the grocery store).

Yesterday, my son purchased a bowl of milk from me, carefully doing the calculations starting from the price of a gallon and dividing by how much milk it takes to fill his (super-sized) cereal bowl.  He was a bit dismayed when I rounded that figure up to 85 cents.  I offered to take him to the convenience store if he preferred a real-life example of something called “convenience markup.”  He declined and gave me three quarters and a dime.

I also offered the Teenager the opportunity to do extra chores to earn some milk money.  He knows that extra chores equal extra pay, and that payment is often immediate in those cases.  My baseboards are still dirty, so I guess the boy is just not that interested.  It’s a shame, because cleaning the baseboards is worth between $3-5 depending on how thorough he is.  He could buy an entire gallon of milk if he expended one hour of work.

I could bail him out, but I think that would send the way wrong message to the Teenager.  Yes, I am his mother and I do provide for his food, shelter, clothing, and schooling.  However, my son himself tells me: “Mom, you’ve made your mistakes already.  Please let me make my own mistakes so I can have some kind of experience.”  This is usually in response to my pleading for the boy to learn from my mistakes so he doesn’t have to repeat them.  What can I say?  My son is hard-headed (my mother insists he is just like me in that respect).

So far I have resisted the urge to bail the boy out of his short-sightedness, and refused to indulge his skewed priorities.  He DOES have the money to buy himself more milk, but simply won’t.  He DOES have the opportunity available to do extra chores for extra pay, but so far has not taken initiative.  So his other options are to do without or buy milk by the bowlful at a convenience mark-up price.

Did I mention my son can be stubborn?

Now, I have seen a bit of commentary on a message board calling me a bit harsh for doing this.  I did stop and think about that criticism, but as noted above, the Teenager has the money to buy his own milk, but wants to spend it on something else.  He also has the opportunity to earn money for it, and is simply not interested.  Finally, I really don’t think the boy wants me to bail him out of this.  Judging from his remarks, I think he’s got quite a bit of teen male pride tied into this experiment and rescue-by-mom goes up against that pride.

Basically I’ve just expended a lot of typing to get around to a simple question: do y’all think I am somehow being harsh by not bailing my son out of his milk dilemna?