That Weak Parent Moment:

When you bought a kid in your house a $600+ iPhone 6 to include a $600 annual bill on a 2 year contract. So you’re telling me that Jr texting you “practice over.. where you at” is worth $1800? Let’s not forget, Jr only plays Fall sports, but does that really matter.. $1800.. c’mon man?!

The Problems:

1. You need your kid to be able to contact you in an emergency.
2. All of their friends have expensive phones, and you don’t want them to feel different.
3. They have been “good” (in the most recent past, compared to their normal behavior)
4. You want to make up for being absent

I would agree, the first problem deserves an answer (not a$1800 answer), but the other three don’t. For the other three problems $1800 would be best spent on family counseling.

The Answers:

1. All of their friends have expensive smart phones, so let them use their friends phone to call you… obviously they can afford it.
2. Walmart and 7-Eleven have cheap pay-as-you-go phones. Your kids don’t need data plans, and you shouldn’t feel bad that they’re embarrassed of their deck of cards size device in their pocket that can talk to billion dollar assets floating in outer space.
3. Republic Wireless or Airvoice Wireless.

When placed in the wrong hands, these smart phones tend to dumb us down; and do you really want the kids addicted to Candy Crush like you are (“I’m not addicted, I just can’t think of anything else to do for an hour before I go to sleep”, yeah keep telling yourself that). We all know the dangers of too much TV, now we can carry the cause of such dangers around anywhere we want; does that sound good for a developing mind?

My Solution:

My teenage daughter gets an allowance that looks like this:

  • $20 every 1st and 15th.. Just for breathing
  • Report Card grades: $20 for A’s, $5 for B’s, nothing for C’s, she owes me $20 for D’s, and owes me $50 for F’s.
  • If she requests to doing something above and beyond, like wash my car, offer to watch, feed, shower, and put to bed the other kids so mom and I can have a date night, or give her brother a haircut; I’d pay her the same amount I’d pay any other non professional for that service.

Once, her mom asked me to give her a raise. Did I give it to her? No, she already gets $40 a month for breathing!

Now back to the story. One day in hopes to save money, I bought a Republic Wireless phone (no contract, unlimited everything $25/month). Gave the wife my old iPhone 4S, and she handed the reigns of her iPhone 3 over to the teen (I would of had her bid for it on Ebay).

Now she has a phone, and pays for it herself every month using Airvoice Wireless’ $10 or $30 a month options.  She feels some independence, keeps her grades up, surprises me with clean sheets and a flipped mattress sometimes (I lied about that last part, but if she ever reads this I’d pay the value of a 2014 $5 bill).

For more information on Airvoice Wireless and other Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO), check out The Frugal Caller.  This site is, by far, the best place to review all the many different cheap cell phone plan options.

Some background on allowance:  I decided to give her one after much thought. Now she can make small money mistakes sooner than later and learn about money through experience.

2 Response Comments

  • FrugalCallerSeptember 28, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I think using a Pay as You Go phone plan like AirVoice is a great idea for kids since it helps teach budgeting skills and accountability. However, rather than budgeting money, they learn how to budget their usage of minutes/texts/data, which is the type of habit that translates and carriers over down the road to budgeting more important things… like money. Since I believe Airvoice provides some kind of tracking app (correct me if I’m wrong) it should make it easy for the kid to keep tabs on how much of his balance is used.

    Of course, I would assume this only works to create the habit if the parent is strict about giving the kid a certain amount of refill per period, as opposed to topping up the phone for them whenever they run out their balance. Anyways, good post, I haven’t put much thought into the best way to handle a child’s cell phone account.

    • cstanleySeptember 28, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      I totally agree. Twice within the first two months my teen asked if we could bail her out… because she went over her texting/data plan. Now what lesson would she have learned if we bailed her out? I do love a good training opportunity, and what she did learn was how to ask her friends if she could use their phone until her allowance was deposited.

      She also told me the only students in her school who pay their own cell phone bills were Seniors… if that’s the case we need to start a campaign to get these parents and students off these big data plans and move to MVNOs

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