My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Debt Is Not Genetic

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Genetic traits are passed down from one generation to the next.  Eye color, the fact that I cannot roll my tongue into the shape of a hot dog bun, and male pattern baldness (sorry, son) are just some of the traits that I have passed down to my children. The good news is that they have not found a gene that will predispose a person to credit card debt. There is hope!  I can teach my children to be financially responsible, and do my best to have them avoid getting into the same situation that I have created for myself. 

My children have weekly chores that they are responsible for; for example, making their beds, helping put their laundry away, and taking out the garbage.  In exchange for performing these tasks, they receive an allowance to the tune of 25 cents for each year old they are.  Thus, my daughter (8) gets $2.00 per week, and my son (11) gets $2.75 each week.   My son also has a job with one of our neighbors picking up dog waste in their yard once a week.   The goal is to teach them that money is not just handed to you in life. I know people that just hand their kids money whenever they ask.  I want to teach my kids that there is no such thing as free money, but that a person is rewarded for hard work.  

Both of my children have wish lists of things they want to purchase.  I get no complaints from them when it's time to do their chores, as they realize that if they want something, they have to work for it and earn the ability to purchase it.  They have to save their allowance for weeks to be able to afford one of their coveted items.  During this period, they have the opportunity to think about the item they are saving for.  They get to put some real thought into whether the item is really worth it. 

One day my daughter wanted to go to the store just to look at Webkinz.  These things come in different sizes, some costing more than others.  She had her eye on one in particular, and even though she hadn't saved enough money yet to purchase it, she wanted to go to the store just to look.   When we got there, she found a different one she could afford.   She agonized over whether she wanted to spend the money she had on the Webkin that was not her first choice, or continue to save her money and get the one she really wanted the next week.  That day, she decided to purchase the cheaper Webkin.   

A few months later she was in the same position. We went back to the store to browse again.  As with the previous trip, she hadn't quite saved up enough money to purchase the Webkin she really wanted.  Once we got there, we found out some of the older items were on sale. She found herself in the familiar situation in which she could afford several Webkinz that were not her first choice.   Again, she agonized over what to do.  In the end, she decided against spending her money.  She declared that she would rather wait until she was able to purchase the one she really wanted.   She remembered the previous experience, and told me she recognized she had made the wrong choice. She had learned that immediate gratification wasn't always worth it. I was so proud of her! 

Accumulating credit card debt may not be hereditary, but through good parenting, my wife and I can teach our children to embrace hard work and not to give in to immediate gratification; we can pass on to our children the trait of financial responsibility. 

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Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan and in his posts he shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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  • So, we made a deal with my son. He could get a phone, but he has to pay the five dollars a month. We figured this would be a good opportunity to teach him that working hard allows him to have extra privileges.

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