Submitted by cheapSKate on Tue, 03/19/2013 – 10:21
My son just turned 13 and the past year has been one of growing pains both height wise and age wise. On a recent family vacation, I noticed that he was spending an inordinate amount of time on his iPhone and when he wasn’t on his phone he was chatting away to me about trading football players for his fantasy football team. I really didn’t pay attention to his behavior. After all, it was nice to have a happy and quiet boy on my hands. Still, I should have remembered back to when he was small and playing quietly was usually an indicator of impending disaster. (One particular time, he gave the dog a haircut with his safety scissors). When we got home, I opened my credit card bill and found out that he had racked up nearly $600 in iTunes charges. His fantasy football team turned out to be a game he purchased on iTunes and every trade he made was costing me cold hard cash. At that moment, I realized, that I could scream at him until I was blue in the face or I could calm down and use this as a teaching moment. (After all I was partly to blame-what sane parent links their credit card with a teenager’s iTunes account?) As his birthday was coming up, I made him sign over all his checks from family and I also withdrew $300 from his savings account to cover the rest of what he owed me. After, suspending my credit card on his account, I sat down with him and went through every charge. Movies were to be rented if not found on Netflix for free (no R-rated allowed), no more fantasy football allowed and apps and music were to be vetted by me. To fund any future purchases, I made him trade in some of his more violent video games. (To be honest, after Newtown, I didn’t want those games in my house anymore.) In exchange for his trade-ins, he received $130 in trade in iTunes cards with that money. I am doling out those cards ten dollars a month in exchange for his weekly chores. When those iTunes cards run out, I will give him an allowance for iTunes (also, chore and grade related). It was an expensive lesson for both of us to learn, but a valuable one.