Rudey's Room

A Solution to Your Keep Your Kids from Busting the Summer Budget



“You said I could have one every.time we came here,” she annunciates firmly. Her hands are squared on her hips. Her eyes are fixed upward on me, daring me to respond.

I know this move. Her horns are locked into argument mode.

I put my hands up in front of my chest. Whoa. Hold up. Wait a minute.

There’s no way in h-e double hockey sticks that I promised a cookie ice cream bar every.time we come to the pool. I know this; it’s likely she knows this. Yet she’s six years old and she’s pushing. Naturally.

I sink in my heels. We’re three days into our pool days and I need to shut this down. “Honey, I know I said you could have these bars, but I never said every.time.”  

“You said every.time,” she stands firm. “You said it. Every.time.”

It’s clear that my logic isn’t going to win her over. She’s in 90 degree-day-in-the-sun-overload.

Clearly, I must concoct a plan. On the fly.

“Well, you’re right. It’s every.time until you’re out of cash.”

Her expression turns to surprise. It’s clear she’s not sure what I mean. I said, “you’re right,” and I stopped her in her tracks.

I continue, “We’re going to have a snack budget this summer. You’re going to get,” … I quickly calculate the cost of approximately one snack times the weeks of summer to get, “$30.” I pause, configuring my plan.

Yeah, you’re going to get $30 at the start of summer. You can spend it however you want. But …,” she’s all ears. She heard $30 (which is the motherlode to a six-year-old) and however you want (golden).

“… when it’s gone, it’s gone.” 

I view this as a win-win and based on her grin, so did she.

My logic is threefold, really.

  • I don’t want to spring $2.50 every other day for an unhealthy pool snack.
  • I don’t want a constant battle. I see the writing on the wall: Not today. Nope. It’s not Friday. We only have the treats on Fridays. Or Mommy said I’d buy the popsicles once a week and you had it on Tuesday. Or girls, these treats are so overpriced, you already had one yesterday, let’s just wait until we get home and I’ll give you ice cream. This is a major buzz kill for me and for them. I refuse to spend the summer being the pool snack police.
  • I want to put it on them. I have fond memories of the Charleston Chews and frozen Snickers Bars that I bought at the neighborhood pool’s snack bar.  I get it, and I want the girls to experience the pool coma sugar fun. Although I must admit, I’m not positive how I got the cash!?! I think it was stolen from my mom’s winter coat pockets. (Mom, feel free to weigh in here).

It’s important to have savoir-faire with your dollars and cents, which is yet another reason that I decided to impart some intentional knowledge on the girls. This being a summer budget.

This week, I handed over the lump sum. I gave each girl $30 in $1 dollar bills that I printed off my computer and cut into stacks. I opted for fake money because I feared that if we brought the real Slim Shadys to the pool they’d get lost or stolen.

The deal is that the money has to last them the 11 weeks of summer vacation  – at the pool. If they spend unwisely (read: too quickly … well, too bad, so sad). I prepped Stella that she won’t get an advance simply because her sister opted to hold onto $10 until the last week of August. My guess is we’ll have this conversation weekly.

I told the girls that whatever money is left at the end of the summer is theirs to keep to spend, save, or donate as they wish.

And they know that the concession stand is only one spot to get eats. I’m in charge of the snack packing and they’re not going to starve at the pool if they opt out of the Luigi’s Italian Ice.

A few snacks I’m excited to tote to the pool this summer …

  • Frozen grapes. My mom introduced us to these and here’s a tutorial.
  • Laughing Cow cheese. You can spread it on carrots, apples, and carrots for a healthy pool-side snack.
  • Homemade Lunchable. Pop cheese, meat, crackers, and your favorite fruit in a bento box and you’ve got a winner.
  • Fruit Roll – Ups. From scratch. I’m not saying it’s going to be from scratch every.time., but we’re going to play with making these  roll-ups this summer.

What do you think? Should I give Stella, my youngest, a smaller amount of money week by week? Do you think I’ll need to break and give them a ten spot before the summer is out? S.V.P., I welcome your thoughts.





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