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Advice Needed: Unmotivated Adult Children

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A friend of mine has one her adult children living at home while attending college (like my twins are.) She recently confided in me some challenges she is having with him. And wanted my advice, I know, go figure!?!

The Situation

Her son seems to have little in the way of self-motivation or drive. But is taking a full load at college and doing well (As and Bs.) He is responsible as far as getting to class and so forth.

But he lost his job after the holidays and quickly burned through any savings he may have had. Like me, she has made him responsible for his own cell phone bill which includes the cost of his phone and his part of the plan (her contract,) his own car insurance (his own plan,) and his day to day expenses like gas, entertainment, etc. She essentially provides room and board, like I do.

Here’s her issue. Now that he has run out of money, he cannot afford his bills. She will have to pay his cell phone bill because it is tied to hers. But in the end she is not legally responsible for any other bills for him.

My Advice

She asked what I would do. I am not sure what I would do, but these are my thoughts:

  • Make him stop driving as soon as he couldn’t pay his insurance. I would assume he has some grace before its cancelled. But maybe this “kick in the butt” might inspire him to get a job. This would be a burden for her because she would have to drive him for a while, but it is doable. I don’t think I would pay this bill, but I would be tempted to because I know that a gap in insurance can hurt in the long run. But I still wouldn’t let him drive until he could pay the bill.
  • Take away his phone as soon as he is not able to pay it. Because it’s under contract and on her plan, I would pay this bill so as not to adversely affect her standing. But again, I would keep the phone until he can pay the bill.
  • Finally, I guess I would give him some sort of time frame to get on his feet. (Especially since he has not been self-motivated to get a job or earn money.) For instance, if you haven’t gotten a job by the end of this semester and caught up with your bills. You will have to leave school and work full time or move out?

Do I sound too harsh? I guess I’m coming at it from my “things are tight and hard” perspective.

My Young Adults

I’ve been very blessed that Sea Cadet especially has really taken ownership of the responsibilities I have given him and is working hard to make good decisions. And really talks alot about it and asks alot of questions.

History Buff is getting it, and during a conversation last night asked “if I got this job could I buy a truck and a house?” My response is it all comes down to how you manage your money. And that’s something you have to work on. His response “I’m just going to keep giving you my paycheck and you can handle that.” To which I replied “NO WAY!” But I had to laugh that he thought so much of my management skills. At least the knowledge I am teaching them makes it seem like I have it all together. (And yes, they are well aware of the struggles we have had.)

So what would you advise my friend? How would you handle an adult child at home would wasn’t self-motivated to make responsible decisions and work?

The Best Ways to NOT Spend Money

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Seeing as we are coming to the end of our 2nd No Spend month in the last four months, I thought it would be interesting to list the ways I have found to NOT spend money. This is especially relevant when you have money is the bank and have your self control is wearing thin.  (Yes, that is where I am at right now, but I am standing firm.)

These are little tricks I’ve used when I’ve been tempted to grab an easy meal out, hit up the local Walmart for some random item or just disappear from home for a couple of hours and hide in a dark theatre with some yummy popcorn.

  1. Don’t carry cash.  Kind of the like “build it and they will come” from Field of Dreams, if you have it in your pocket, it will start to burn. I keep a $10 bill in my wallet for “emergencies” but otherwise do not keep cash on hand when I’m in a “no spend mode.”
  2. Have some easy meals and snacks on hand. My greatest temptation is food. When I’m tired and don’t want to cook. When I don’t have something easy to make. Or when the kids are hungry NOW and all the food I have on hand requires some prep. I’ve learned that keeping some hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwich on hand is a great way to deal with this temptation.
  3. Don’t carry your cards. Now I have to preempt this with, I am a planner. And living in this tiny town, I am never more than 10 miles from home and normally no further than a mile. So if something happened while I was out, I could easily get home to get access to more money. When I go further from home, I take my full wallet. But not having plastic on me, helps prevent those impulse buys especially when my will power is waning.
  4. Make a plan. I use Asana and Google Calendar to plan my life. I even have a separate project set up for meal plans in Asana and then its integrated with my Google Calendar so when I look at my day it not only includes all my appointments and To Do lists for work, but also the meal I am cooking for dinner that night. Having these check lists and daily plans keeps me from wavering and on task.
  5. Become a member. Depending on where you live, there are a lot of membership opportunities that give you access to all sorts of fun stuff for free – museums, national parks, dog parks and even libraries. When the kids were younger, I joined a “museum club” for lack of a better word which let us visit all the various museums and parks around for a very nominal yearly fee. We went regularly. And now the library is my favorite place – free books, free movies and tons of events each week.
  6. Go to church. Okay, I’m not trying to convert you. But many of the churches we have attended in the last few years have a free drink bar on Sunday mornings, some feed you (or just the kids breakfast) and many even still have a full meal during the week.  Our current church provides donuts and drinks after the first service and then breakfast sandwiches to the kids (high school and college.) And they have a Wednesday meal if you attend that service. Not only can you get fed spiritually, plug into your community, but you can also get fed a meal.
  7. Take up hiking (or just walking.) We are blessed to list within a mile of some gorgeous trails, waterfalls, mountains and so on. So hiking is big around here. Really big. But even if you live in a big city, get out and take a walk. The kids and my favorite thing to do when we visit a big city or even back in Williamsburg was go walking in the middle of the night. Downtown was quiet, the street lights were on and traffic was pretty much non-existent. Those times are some of my fondest memories, there is just something about the “ghost” town feel.

These are just a few of the things that have helped keep me sane during our No Spend Months. And you know what. These months have been life changing for me in so many ways. Keep me focused. Help me feel better about my financial mess that I am digging out. And most importantly helping me dig a little faster to get back to solid ground!

Do you have any tips to share to help control your spending?