Who should pay?

It’s the end of the school year and the kids have many trips. To the lake, to the pizza shop – ten bucks here, ten there – it does add up.

My 8th grader is graduating and moving on to high school. (Give me a second, I am verklempt just thinking about it). His grade is being taken on a graduation trip where they will do stuff like white water rafting and rock climbing. I am so totally envious – I even asked him if they needed mommies to come.

Anyhow, this is a big trip, subsidized but still costing plenty of money. Not your ten dollar trip to the pizza store. I can’t not let him go – he has worked so hard this year, he has earned this trip, but yes, it’s tough on the wallet – especially with all the schools wanting the registration fees for the next academic year by the end of this week. (Oy to the vey on that).

My son, bless him, offered to pay something towards it because he knows that it’s a lot of money. I feel that he has no income, he has no way right now to replenish his bank account, and that was his barmitzvah money. He should keep it for something important.

I have been told by others that I should NOT pay for the whole trip and allow him to contribute. But when the boys go to the pizza store or the lake or the museum I give them the full whack. They don’t get allowance – it isn’t fair of me to expect them to cough up the money, right?

So what works in your house? Do you pay for all the trips? Do you give allowance and expect the kids to pay for everything out of that? How does it work? Talk to me, folks.

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  1. mrsjessica says:

    I don’t have kids yet, so I can just tell you how it worked in my family. My parents gave me an allowance as part of the bargain once I reached about 7. It was a privilege, something that could be taken away, but it wasn’t directly dependent on say, finishing all my chores. It was how old I was, every two weeks (i.e. $7 when they started, and I think they capped it at $15 – I got it until I went to college, at which point I got basically a stipend for food/expenses once I moved out of the dorms. I also went to a state school – things would have been different had it been private ). The money was used for extras, toys that I wanted or, if I wanted, to put towards something. For my bat mitzvah, I got a checking account for the money plus my allowance.

    Personally, I feel like if he wants to contribute, he knows there’s no immediate way to get it back, and if it’s just a small part, then it’s up to him to make that decision about how he wants to use it. I don’t know how much he got, so it’s hard to make that determination. It might also be a good time to talk to him about how you see him using the money, if you’re not sure that this is the appropriate way – it’s a great learning opportunity for him.

  2. RaggedyMom says:

    I think it says a great deal about his integrity and maturity that he wants to contribute something! And it may be that intrinsically he senses that he’ll appreciate the trip more to some extent if he has a part in paying for it. Maybe he can pay for *something* on the trip e.g. one activity, or a meal/snacks, or… ? If you feel uncomfortable having him pay, maybe you can reimburse him the amount he shelled out, over time. If he paid $20 towards the trip, and extra $5 divided over 4 times, to reward him later on for his gesture.

    • Let the kid pay. I agree. What a mature kid. I knew at that age that we were broke so I would have just assumed I couldn’t go on said trip unless the money came from somewhere even if it was my birthday money, etc.

  3. batya from NJ says:

    When my kids go on school trips i generally pay for them completely but my kids (depending on their ages & if they are at an age where they have some $ saved up from babysitting or bar mitzvahs etc) i sometimes have them pay for the lunches or snacks or other extras that they might want to buy on the trip but there are no hard & fast rules. i do agree that it was very sweet of your son to offer to chip in & if you feel you need him to, you can let him or you can pay the whole fee but have him pay for any extras he may want to buy on the trip. btw, i used to offer my kids a reward of a $1 a day if i felt they deserved it & were mostly well-behaved all day but we have stopped that around a year ago b/c it wasn’t so effective ultimately although it served its purpose initially.

  4. fille says:

    I think it is a good idea to let him pay, especially if he offered to.
    He is now 15, so he could get a summer job to fill his bank account up again.

    I think that letting children pay for things they want has a positive effect on several levels:
    - They learn to work for money, it makes them proud, it gives them a sense that they contribute to the family, and it also gives them a sense of independence: my own hands achieved that I now have this and that.

    Furthermore, I think that boys around 15 badly need to be needed, to accomplish something. So even if it weren’t for the dire family budget, I think it is positive to have the children contribute. If the contribution is really needed, all the better.

    By the way: when we were in 8th grade, we would have an organised class activity, (like selling pain au chocolat in the break) in order to pay for our end-of-year-trip.

  5. lady lock and load says:

    I think it is very VERY nice that your boy wants to contribute to the cost of his trip. Maybe he could pay for “extra” stuff which there always is (and they always must stock up on nosh for the bus ride! :) )
    I was thinking of instead of money maybe he would like to work for you for a portion of the money. I am not sure how this can be implemented but if you have special chores that need to be done, write a list and how much you would have paid someone to do that. He will have some time off from school now and it will keep him occupied plus help you out! good luck! That kid is a cutey.

  6. ploni says:

    School field trip, parent pays. In this case, especially as it’s the graduation trip and you feel he has earned this and it is a great trip he shouldn’t miss. Parent writes the check to the school for the field trip fee.

    Money for souvenirs and snacks, kid (at his age) pays, out of allowance or earned money from babysitting or odd jobs. Not bar mitzvah money.

    If you don’t give him allowance, and he isn’t earning anything, how often do you end up needing to give him pocket money? At that age I was always spending fifty cents here and two dollars there, even more so in high school.

    Maybe use this occasion to start giving him an allowance, so he doesn’t always have to ask you and can learn to manage his own money?

    Allowance would be for just these kinds of little incidental pocket money kinds of things or for treating a friend or for saving for something like a present for you, but not for everything, not for regular periodic expenses and bills or clothes or things for school. He wants a book, some music, needs a gift for someone? Sometimes kid and sometimes parent pays, depending on the situation.

    A different kind of trip, not a field trip where most everything is included, parent pays for the in advance things like the plane ticket and also gives spending money for food and whatever else, but kid knows to pay for souvenirs and other things he’d pay for at home out of his own money. Day trip to the city with a friend he pays everything.

    And nothing stops the parent from saying here’s a little extra cash for your trip or you okay for cash for your event or whatever.

    Important for kid to learn responsibility with money but not to instill senseof pettiness in him with too much accounting and argument over who pays what.

    If it seems better to leave things as they are, pay the field trip fee then just slip him some cash when he is leaving. Really, sounds like it’s been working fine, it’s fine for you to pay for it, to treat it like the other situations you mention.

    And certainly make point of stating how impressive and mature it is that he offered to pay.

  7. padaone says:

    For the future consider an allowance. It is money well spent to teach independence, good choices and it may prevent their own credit card debt in the future

    I love the following conversation I have all the time:
    KID: I want that
    ME: That is something you can buy with your own money
    KID: Nah, I dont want that

  8. It’s great that he’s offering to pay himself. If you’re not sure what to do, how about he pays for everything that comes up while he’s on the trip? I remember we usually had additional expenses on the trips. That might be a way to habe him keep part of hix Bar Mitzvah money, but still pay for part of the expenses.

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