My daughter’s high school recently held their annual homecoming celebration. All the usual activities were included such as the football game followed by fireworks, and the homecoming dance the following evening. One activity not on the official list, but I added to my daughter’s agenda was a life lesson in finances.
\My daughter and her friends spent the afternoon putting on makeup and doing their hair, and planned to go out to eat before going to the dance. She and her friends sat in a corner booth, while my wife and I took a table across the restaurant. We were supposed to leave, but with an open table immediately available we decided to stay. Since our presence was unknown to our daughter’s group, my wife suggested we surprise them by paying the bill. I suggested we let them all pay their own bill, not only to make them feel independent, but also as a great financial teaching experience.
Having a teenager go out to eat with their friends teaches several good life skills in finances:
Lesson 1: Budgeting
My daughter had brought along some cash to pay for her dinner. Unlike when she eats with her parents, she now has to pay attention to how much the food and drinks cost to ensure she has enough money to pay her bill.
Lesson 2 : Tipping
At the end of the meal, she will be forced to think about the quality of service. She will have to think about how much of a tip she should leave, and again whether she has enough cash with her. She might realize she will have to think about this ahead of time and not use the entirety of her funds on her meal since some must be allocated for the tip. She may remember percentages that I had given her for poor, good and great service. Maybe she’ll calculate the tip amount in her head, or maybe she’ll use the calculator ap on her phone.
Lesson 3: Price vs Value
At conclusion of her evening and she’s back home, I’ll ask her to evaluate whether the amount she paid for her meal was worth the value she got out of it. She should think about everything included in the experience including price, the quality of the food ordered, the service, and the memories made with friends while she was eating. Was it worth the cost?
Many people eat at a restaurant from time to time. Your children will also likely begin to do so as they get older. Being able to successfully navigate such an experience requires some skills that children must be taught.
How about you, EOD Nation, how old was your child when they ate at a restaurant with their friends alone? Did you properly prepare them and teach them the necessary skills?