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Parent owes child explanation on money deal

Question: I'm a sophomore in college, and I'm having trouble figuring out how to get my mom to give me the money she promised me. We worked out in advance how much allowance I would receive each semester and what it would go for. I keep track of the money flow, but she hasn't yet delivered.

She pays for school and most of my large expenses, so I feel awkward asking her for money she "owes" me. I save most of what I earn, so I never have to worry about my bank balance. But if I didn't have such a healthy cushion, I would be in the red.

I feel as if I'm treading a fine line between acting spoiled and appreciating what she's given me. Recently, I politely sent her a "bill," an action that we both agreed on, for more than $3,000. As a parent yourself, what would you suggest I do?

Answer: I'm curious to know how your mother responded to your "bill." It's not clear why she hasn't come across with the cash. If it's because of unexpected financial problems, you can certainly pitch in to help, especially since you have resources of your own. But she owes you an explanation.

If your mother has simply neglected to hold up her end of the deal, she owes you the cash — and you can tell her I said so, parent to parent — or show her this column.

Because your mother is paying for school and other large expenses, it does make sense for you to contribute some of your own spending money. Perhaps you should rely less on your mom's allowance and more on your own earnings. But that should be worked out between the two of you.

Parents, when you make a bargain with your children regarding money, don't expect that you can back out just because your kid is a kid. Children deserve consideration and respect — especially when both of you have put time and thought into working out a sensible financial arrangement.


Have a question about kids and finances for Dr. Tightwad? Write to Dr. T at 1729 H St., N.W., Washington, DC 20006. Or send the good doctor an e-mail message (and any other questions for this column) to jbodnar@kiplinger.com.