Teaching Teens The Cost Of Real Life

I’m a huge advocate of increasing financial education for our children. I don’t feel our school system currently does enough to prepare students to manage their finances successfully. But I certainly don’t think schools should be the only source of financial education. Parents need to play a significant role as well, including ensuring kids have a grasp on how much things cost. I had two wonderful opportunities to do just that over the weekend.


Car Repairs

As my son was backing our car out of the garage on his way to school, I heard a loud noise. I opened the door to the garage thinking something must have tipped over. I didn’t see anything, shrugged my shoulders and resumed getting ready for the day. A few minutes later, I received a text from my son stating he was closer to the side of the garage than he had realized and broke the passenger side mirror off the car.

While this incident gave me the opportunity to touch on several life lessons with my son, with this being his first car repair he was about to learn just how expensive it is to fix even the most minor thing on a vehicle. We took the car in for an estimate to replace the broken mirror:

  • Mirror: $274
  • Labor (1 hour): $90

Total: $364

I know he was shocked at the repair cost, so I explained the cost to him. The hourly labor cost is pretty standard for any kind of repair labor, whether it be a plumber, electrician or mechanic. The mirror costs that much because it’s not just plastic and glass. It’s an electric mirror controlled by buttons on the driver’s side door. That capability increases the cost significantly.

Birthday Party

My daughter turns 15 in April. Some members of my wife’s family have a traditional Quinceañera for a girl’s 15th birthday. We had no such plans, however my daughter asked if she could still do something special. She wanted to have a dinner with her close friends, and then host a dance at a larger venue where she could invite a larger group of people. She explained the dance didn’t have to be elaborate, it just a larger room that she and her friends could decorate. She suggested that we could ask my wife’s brother to use some of his equipment for the music, as he’s brought it to our home for use during our annual Memorial Weekend party.

Trying not to damper her spirits, we explained to her that we had no idea how much it would cost to rent facilities for what she described. We supported her excitement by saying we would look into it together. We gave her a number as to how much we were willing to spend on renting facilities, and we would discuss together what we found. This will likely also include discussions of what different requirements are stipulated by various venues as to whether food and drink can be brought in as well.

Both of these scenarios will be encountered by my kids again in their lifetime. Many young adults go through their childhood sheltered from how real life things cost and enter adulthood subject to sticker shock. While pricing will change over time, this gives them a reference of how much things in real life cost and prepare them for financial challenges.

How about you, EOD Nation, did your parents prepare you for the cost of real life?

About Travis

2 Responses to “Teaching Teens The Cost Of Real Life”

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  1. Great lesson for them both. Many parents would just take care of it for their children and nothing is learned. We have had similar lesson teaching our children the cost of car ownership with a recent broken headlight and red light ticket.

  2. Money Beagle says:

    Just a heads up, I did the same thing with my mirror a few years back and was able to find a replacement for around $30. It also was electronically controlled but it wasn’t too much hassle to hook up. It’s one repair I was able to do myself and even though it was a third party part, it worked just fine.

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