BBC Radio Solent’s Alun Newman opens his Dad’s Diary...
As a child I was able to save. In fact, when I think about it, I had to learn to spend.
My daughter’s more like me – short arms, deep pockets.
My son, on the other hand, has a different challenge.
Money passes through his fingers like water.
Having just landed himself a lucrative weekend job, he has cash. Plenty of it.
I attempted a general coaching style, ‘spend a little, save a little, give a little’.
What my son heard was… beeeeeeep.
My wife tried a spreadsheet approach demonstrating where his money’s going and what he could plan to save for.
What he heard was… beeeeeep.
Instead he has committed his budget to junk food, junk drinks and computer games.
I wanted to have a hands-off approach but I can’t help chipping in.
My latest idea is an incentive bonus saving scheme.
Recently, returning from a festival, my son declared that it was vital for his future that he owned a bass guitar in the next 24 hours.
He invited me to go halves, I laughed (a lot), he’s well versed in the parent trap that ‘musical instruments are always good’ – it’s not a screen.
I wasn’t falling for it.
‘You buy the guitar and if by next pay day you have some savings, then I’ll club in £50.
The deal was accepted.
As the weeks go by and Walkers, Cadbury, EA Games and other contributors to society continue to profit from his hard work we reach the next pay day.
My son advises me that it’s payday tomorrow and he has savings so I should cough up.
I request a look at the bank account for confirmation.
Then I realise the fundamental error of my incentive bonus saving scheme.
I should have set a minimum saving amount.
I questioned whether 87 pence was indeed saving.
There was a silence and I knew that I was trapped.
To not pay would never be forgotten.
I paid up through gritted teeth and later discovered he used the money to update his Playstation online membership.
I’m sure he’ll find his own way and learn to manage his funds one day.
But what really grates is that he has more disposable income than me.
Take a risk and enjoy the surprise
My people rather dread the question, ‘what would you like for your birthday?’
I take the line that as an adult if I need it, I get it. I don’t like fuss and have general disparaging thoughts about adults who go on and on about their birthday wishes. My wife knows this.
On my birthday this year I did the recycling, cut the lawn, and went to the supermarket.
I received no messages/cards/gifts from my wider family and that would be the norm, a loving but terribly unreliable bunch.
On my return, via the back garden, I see a mahoosive amount of picnic-style food on the kitchen table.
Suddenly, there’s a burst of noise and in walk 14 members of my family, shouting, laughing and singing happy birthday.
I’m stunned, happy, thrilled. I was experiencing my first surprise birthday party.
Throughout my life I have always committed to the idea that I don’t want a surprise party.
I thought I’d hate it, not want the fuss, keep things simple. I was wrong. It was fabulous. It’s a rare event that all my family gather in one place to drink and talk let alone with me at the centre.
If you’re an Anti-Surprise Party Campaigner, I strongly suggest that you change sides, take a risk and start leaking out the notion that actually, if it was to happen to you, it could be quite good fun!