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Old 01-02-2011, 03:55 PM   #41
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Nords... one of the things you should check on the Zipcar is the insurance.... remember... you have to have liability and coverage for the car... also check out how much CDW coverage there is...

As an example... one of our employees had a rental in the frozen north... a big hail storm came by and had its way with the car... every panel had dents and even some of the dents had dents... a couple of windows were cracked... the damage was well over $8K... then we found out the CDW was only $4K.... our company had to cough up the extra money... we did get it down some as they were going to charge us for 30 days of rental at $65 per day... when even they rent for a month at a lot less...
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:26 AM   #42
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Nords,

I am curious to ask about your comment in one of your more recent posts saying that "ZipCar wiped out her checking account". What did you mean by this: your DD rents too much (and in areas where she can easily walk or use public transportation) or that the service is very expensive?

It's fun to read this thread especially the parts where your DD meets rich kids and how their habits influence her behaviour....scary stuff for frugal parents.
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:43 AM   #43
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When our younger son was in college he noticed friends going out to eat and spending a lot more money than he was spending. Turns out they borrowed more in student loans than was needed for tuition and books and the excess was loaded onto a debit card. They were treating it as free money.

He graduated in Dec. 2009 and he has no student loans but many of his friends are now paying large payments on theirs.
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:46 PM   #44
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I am curious to ask about your comment in one of your more recent posts saying that "ZipCar wiped out her checking account". What did you mean by this: your DD rents too much (and in areas where she can easily walk or use public transportation) or that the service is very expensive?
"Yes."

ZipCar offers two Honda Insights (2009? 2010 models?) and a late-model Volvo. I don't know if the rates differ by city (and neither does she) but in Houston she pays roughly $30 for half a day and $70 for a full day. OTOH she ran a friend up to the airport and drove right back to the Rice campus, and that two-hour drive was only $16. A comparable cab fare would've been about $45, although a shuttle bus might have beaten both of them.

Part of the problem is that she decides she "needs" a ZipCar to run errands that could be run on foot or via bicycle, or that it's too hot/sweaty for manual labor. Then 3-4 friends pile in (or she invites them) and she feels bashful about asking them to pay their fair share. Pretty soon everyone's lined up outside her door on a Saturday afternoon, they go out to eat, they go shopping, drop by a movie, they stop at the Chocolate Bar, and the party never ends...

The city runs a Metrorail and buses, both of which are free to Rice students. However the student consensus is that the routes are inconvenient, riders still have to walk several blocks from the stop to their ultimate destination, and they shut down too early in the evening. My personal feeling is that nobody tries very hard to plan ahead.

If I'd been renting a ZipCar at that age, my lack of sobriety maturity & self-discipline aside, I would've been running a campus jitney and turning a profit. Feels kinda strange to talk to my teen about entrepreneurialism and assertiveness training. She used to be way too generous with our money. Now she's way too generous with her own money and I suspect that one or two of her "friends" may be manipulating & encouraging that behavior. The rest are just enjoying the fun while it lasts.

After spouse and I had a prolonged discussion, we think we're expecting 25-year-old cerebration out of an 18-year-old. We've been watching her behavior, hearing her thoughts and her logic, and seeing how she decides that she's "earned" the right to spend money. Yesterday she visited the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet to pick up local snacks for next semester. She saw a beautiful Hawaiian quilt for $225 but the vendor said it was on sale for $150. She didn't have the cash, of course, and walked on by. But then another vendor told her a silver ring normally costs $40 but "for her" it was only $25. She's been putting in a lot of working hours this week ($10/hour) and she's made over $100 so she decided to treat herself. I think the ring retails in Wal-Mart at around $10-$15 but it never occurred to her that (1) she doesn't need a ring, (2) it might be cheaper elsewhere, (3) she might really want that $25 in a month or two. She's proud of her new shiny thing but the money issues literally never occurred to her beyond the fact that she "saved" a lot of money by only spending $25 instead of $40... or $225.

She needs to learn how to "live poor" before she's ready to handle serious money.

We parents pay her $90/month iPhone bill (it's a great college productivity tool and worth the money) and NROTC gives her a $250/month tax-free stipend. We think it's reasonable to expect her to spend less than that.

Again, maybe I'm being hypersensitive and too harsh. However we spent a lot of time on her financial education and now we feel as if she's caught a wicked case of entitlement affluenza. We'll know more by May!
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:04 PM   #45
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Hi Nords, sounds like you are fighting the good fight. Who's winning?

Here's a report from our front lines:
The phone seems to be a real battle line. One can get a cheap one and a pay-as-you go plan for $30/mo unlimited (Page Plus uses Verizon network). We finally convinced DS to use that plan.

Now he's pushing for a new phone since the cheaper plans (i.e. not Verizon or ATT) don't give you a "free" one. I've just been smiling and telling him it's a bit too much at $180 or so. We all know how it's important to be able to text easily and how nobody actually talks to friends any more. That's theoretical knowledge on my part as I've never sent a text message.

DS lost his better phone when he put it in an area of someone's place that had some liquid he didn't find out about until too late. I think that means he lost it in a beer puddle. So now he's using the old phone whose battery is not new. He could buy a new battery ...

This is getting very boring even to me.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:34 AM   #46
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Undone by the ZipCar - I wouldn't have thought it possible.

Roomies and friends have a big impact. With oldest kiddo it turned out marvelously well, he made four or five close friends in the first few weeks and they stuck together. With half of them on full scholarships and paying for extras out of their own pocket (or stacking up huge student loan debts) there wasn't a lot of "hey, let's go spend money!" events in the group.

My boys' early financial educations were often based on riding around with me in the truck and listening to the people who called in to Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard to tell their tales of woe. Plus we would play a game of examining some offer or sales pitch and ask the question, "where's the scam?" They got to be pretty good at spotting a dumb financial idea.

A little more haphazard was turning their expenses over to them. Mostly it just involved me saying "I'm not paying for that." Oldest one got an iPhone for Xmas one year, but he pays for the data plan and before that he got whatever phone they were giving away free (or whatever he paid for on his own). That illustrated a general rule: Stuff that was a great idea if Dad was paying for it becomes really dumb when they have to pay for it.

The one question I have to know the answer to is: Why did she pay the $16 to drive her friend to the airport? It's not like Tulsa where the airport was ten minutes from campus and DS would just call to the apartment and say "pick a brother up." And it's not just about the money in H-town. Either airport is a far trip down a crowded freeway full of maniacs people who know how to drive in this town (My driving lessons always included three parts: How the law says we do it, how courteous drivers do it, and "because we live in Houston this is how we have to do it in order to survive").

It would seem more appropriate for her friend to have paid the ZipCar fee and done it with gratitude.

Tulsa, like Houston, is a car city*. But being a resident of a good campus he did not have much of a driving need. Airport runs, Wal-Mart runs, etc., and everything else was either on campus or just outside. On that latter part I think Rice is a little weaker. He didn't take his car the first semester, but brought it later only to have the battery die due to lack of use.

*From a cop's point of view, pedestrians are so rare in many areas in Houston that they were almost suspicious in their very existence. At the very least I would often give them a second glance and wonder why they were walking and not riding. It's a little more pedestrian friendly now, but it will never win any awards for walkability.

Oh, and the green machine appreciates the t-shirt love.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:47 AM   #47
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Nords, you've laid a good foundation for your daughter but she's out of your nest now. She will make many, many mistakes along the way and the first semester of freshman year is tough. Maybe this battle of figuring out how to budget on her own should be hers for the winning or losing? The downside is small if she "loses" but the lesson will still be valuable, maybe more so because she learned it from her own actions?
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:23 AM   #48
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I'm losing the expectations battle! I should've dialed myself back a bit.

The phone issue hasn't been texts or socializing as much as it's fueled her own trend of expectations. We see the Macbook and the iPhone (with its "unlimited" data plan) as essential college tools that she needed to learn how to use in high school and hit the ground running in college. They've succeeded beyond expectations in that regard-- very efficient use of Internet access, data sharing, study groups, and networking. Hours of studying have been saved by not having to run around finding an available computer or references. However she also regards them as lifestyle enhancers provided by the college fund. When her iPhone broke last week, while she was trapped in the AT&T-Apple finger-pointing pingpong, at one point she told me that the solution was to have the college fund buy an iPhone4. I said that we'd continue to pay the $90/month plan but upgrades were her problem and, as unpleasant as it might be to stick up for herself and demand warranty service, "Mommy & Daddy" were standing by to supply her with "silver bullets" in her struggle. In Hale Nords those phrases are affronts to her adulthood & independence, and she strode forth with enough pissed-off attitude to get the warranty service. Phone fixed, problem solved. As UncleMick says, heh-heh-heh.

We don't pay much attention to Ramsey & Howard in our house, but Suze Orman gets a lot of TV time. Now our daughter is very good at assessing someone's "Can I Afford It?" situation, and she can spot quibbling & rationalization a long ways off. But somehow she hasn't made the connection that Suze's teachings just might be related to her personal life.

She has lots of good friends and good mentors. Rice does not have the "us vs them" mentality that was so baked into my USNA years, and it's a wonderful thing. The problem is that she's so grateful for the friendship & mentoring that she tends to over-reciprocate by spending money on them. Re-reading my post, I didn't mean to give the impression that she spent $16 on the ZipCar to the airport-- the friend she gave the ride to paid for that. It was just one example of how at $8/hour it's a great car for an hour or two, although it really adds up over an entire day. There have been other times where she's had the whole gang in her car for the day and hasn't felt comfortable asking them to chip in.

I didn't appreciate the "car city" aspect. She knows there are places to "not go" and there seems to be a constant tug-of-war between Rice and the city over public transportation accessibility. But until that's resolved (if it ever is) and regardless of the reality, the students tend to view the public transportation as insufficient and unreliable. The problem is that the students also try to cram 8-12 people into one of their classmate's cars, and she rightly threw the safety flag on that idea. She just needs to fine-tune her solution.

She's making progress. When she came home her first idea on the ZipCar problem was to ship the Prius to Houston (~$1400) or to go buy a car of her own. Upon further reflection (recalling other students who hardly use their cars) now she sees it as more of a hassle than an asset. Or maybe it was because we told her she'd have to get her own insurance & gas if she wanted to be a Houston car owner. Once it wasn't supported by the college fund then it became a dumb idea?

As spouse and I compared notes from the last couple weeks, it's clear that our daughter doesn't (yet) have a handle on the big picture of budgeting. For example, when she overspent on one category (like "food" or "transportation") it didn't occur to her that she'd have to stop spending on some other category like"clothes". In her mind she still had money in the clothing budget and thus she had a right to spend money on clothing. Her solution to "food" & "transportation" was to get more money from the college fund, not to stop spending. She also thought that Neiman Marcus at the Galleria is where Houston shops for jeans & sweatshirts. Now it's true that Goodwill might not be in a wholesome neighborhood, yet she also knows where Target is. But that's not where the girlfriends took her, and she didn't stick up for her budget or hold out for lower prices. She just caved to peer pressure and had fun shopping buying clothes.

She's still locked into a consumer/materialistic lifestyle. Although she claims she's going to get a handle on her spending, last night at home she was changing her iPhone to Houston time. Her idea was that when it was midnight in Houston she'd have a four-hour head start on the crowd of eager teens queued up for the midnight release of the new "must have" book to buy and download to her iPhone. It never seemed to occur to her that she could wait a few months and not join the consumer stampede for the latest craze. Or, heaven forbid, wait until it's at the library. Perhaps that behavior is age appropriate.

Yeah, I'm angry-- mostly at myself for thinking that this would all work out at such an early age. I'm extremely attracted to the long-term tax-deferred compounding advantages of being able to gift money to a young adult's TSP, 401(k), and Roth IRA. I thought we could do that with her and trust her to not raid the cookie jar. But observing her thought process makes me realize that she's just not mature enough yet. I can't hold her responsible, let alone be angry at her. It's not that she doesn't get it-- it's more of a case of not yet being capable of getting it. We taught her how to handle money, but she has a long way to go with learning how to manage it.

Really, she's succeeded on the risks of college life in the big city. She has decent grades, good support from NROTC and Rice mentors & most peers, and good behavior standards. She claims that she's not drinking and that she's not, um, engaging in other risky activities. I believe her. How would we feel if she came home to announce "Sure I have a 1.95 GPA but I made $450 profits this semester charging people to drive them around in a ZipCar!!"? She's definitely not Michael Dell, let alone hardwired to be Warren Buffett.

We've also realized that she's not ready to revisit a discussion of money management or profit-sharing of the college fund. Heck, neither are we parents. No matter how we try to spin it, it'd come across as accusing her of not being an adult and demeaning her independence. It may be true, but that's no way to internally motivate her. Right now she just needs to understand that the college fund is not supporting lifestyle expenses and that she needs to start saving. She's made some small steps in that direction, but she needs a lot of practice before we redesign our profit-sharing plan. I used to think that after graduation we'd be able to gift her the college fund remains for a year or few so that she could max her payroll deductions to the TSP and also fund her Roth IRA. Now I'm thinking that would just breed affluenza and instead she should figure out how to max her own savings. Perhaps at the most for every $2 she puts into a tax-deferred account we'd contribute $1, but she has to be internally motivated and not driven by financially-controlling parents. It doesn't matter what we parents think. She needs to figure this all out on her own, without our "help", and tell us her plan. Otherwise I'm just turning over the controls of a reactor plant to someone who hasn't even finished nuke power school yet...

I think I've been too focused on the potential of setting her up for FIRE. Like you say, Feever, it's time to back off and let her figure her financial independence out for herself.

I'm not sure who learned more this semester-- our daughter or us parents!
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:29 AM   #49
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Nords, she is a lucky, lucky girl to have you and Mrs. Nords--she'll be fine. And learning how to come back on her own (i.e., get her finances in the order she wants them) from what she probably perceives as failing (as I can tell she has very high standards and expectations of herself, so to most people what is probably a minor issue, to her might be devastating) is also important to learn.

Is she still planning to bring a gaggle ("parliament") of Owls to your place for spring break and surf lessons?
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:47 AM   #50
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Some of the best lessons my kids learned came from buying something they wanted and then regretting it later because they were broke and had to wait for a payday. This happens to the younger son all the time and he's gotten very good at budgeting and planning ahead for upcoming expenses. The older son just makes plenty of money and can buy anything he wants. His self control comes from wanting to invest more. He-he-he.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:33 AM   #51
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Nords, I've enjoyed reading your DD interactions. It's a difficult task knowing when to back off. I try to remind myself that DS can make many mistakes as long as it doesn't cost me too many dimes. So I'm constantly reminding him we're on a fixed income but don't talk about the full spending level. It's a great excuse to say no.

Most likely your daughter is going to do some things that you would not approve of. And it's nice as parents not to be burdened with that knowledge. Didn't most of us do that with our parents? But it turned out alright in the end and we're all fine upstanding citizens now -- well most of us.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:38 AM   #52
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I read all of this college tribulation/finance havoc with absolute fascination. Had no idea so much went into parenting college kids.

My experience was all self funded, self motivated, self taught and self solved all the self inflicted screwups.

Nords' kid is lucky to have so much guidance, direction and backup. Guess in a way am jealous, could have used some help along the way. Maybe she'll understand the value of the parental input in her latter years.

Kids with educated and experienced parents have truly unique and vast advantages over those who have to make and find their own way.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:03 PM   #53
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Nords... I can see some of what you say in my future... we will see how bad it can get...


But, I just want to share a bit from one of my sisters kids... now, my sister is not extravegant as some... but not nearly as frugal as others... (one of my sisters does go to the outlet stores and picks up bargains.. this one does not)... she does go to the cheeper stores etc. and looks for the bargains... now, her daughter seems to only want NAME BRAND items from NAME BRAND stores... they bought a Hummer... they used to trade cars every three or four years... my sis does not know where her daughter got this from... (funny on this... my sis has bought things from a non name brand store and removed all labels and given it to her daughter in a name brand bag.... seems to get by the smell test)...


Her son is another one that we would shake our heads... one time 'grandma' gave him money for gas... back when $100 went a LONG way... he went to his car... saw he had a full tank and went out and bought CDs... a couple of weeks later he was asking people for gas money... people asked... 'what happend to the money gran gave?'... we got the response 'I had gas then'.... priceless...


So, no matter how good you teach.. people have thier own attitudes about money and it will show up in their adulthood... we can not do anything about it....
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:06 PM   #54
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Speaking from a "get off my lawn" and "uphill both ways" childhood:
I have always offered gas money to people before they asked (seems your daughter has a lot of grasping 'friends').
Never had kids so advice might be way off page: Can she have the gonads to ask for contributions?
I shopped at thrift stores and walked while college.

Good luck: Reminds me why I never reproduced.
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:18 PM   #55
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Nords, the more I read, the more I see myself in you . Of course, I don't compare myself to you as an investor and other experience, but with regards to your frustrations about your DD's money spending, we're the same. It's kind of scary if your story reflects my future. I also feel sorry for your DD because she's so generous as you say. Can't she drop a line "Guys, what about chipping in for this ZipCar? It's not that cheap, you know" or something. Or if next time someone asks her whether she has plans to get a ZipCar, her reply to that could be "if we could pull $$ together....". Darn, it's maddening to me just to read this. OTOH, I sort of understand your DD and her trying to fit in because she'll have to spend not months, but a few years with those 'friends'....

Also, now I'm curious how didn't you teach your DD to manage $$ when she was a child. Did you give her an allowance or did she have to earn by doing chores or a combination of the two? Did she have a SAVE and a SPEND 'banks'?

I understand how hard it is for you because you already know and have experienced all of her behaviour in your past. Maybe this is the "controlling you" (definitely be me) feeling that anger because everything 'out there' is crystal clear to you, but it's new for your DD and she'll have to learn her way like other posters stated.

Oh boy, not looking forward to "Nord's kind" of future, though you know what you, as a parent, have to be thankful that your DD is a responsible person in other respects like no smoking, alocohol or substance abuse. Money mismanagement skills would fade against such issues. I'm just about to introduce a piggybank to my DD, but she'll also get exposure to peer pressure since she'll be starting K next year.
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:08 PM   #56
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Speaking from a "get off my lawn" and "uphill both ways" childhood:
I have always offered gas money to people before they asked (seems your daughter has a lot of grasping 'friends').
Never had kids so advice might be way off page: Can she have the gonads to ask for contributions?
I shopped at thrift stores and walked while college.

Good luck: Reminds me why I never reproduced.

What she needs is what one guy had when we were in high school... when very very few people had cars.... he had a can that he passed around to get the 'offerings'.... he would then count it in front of people and if not enough was in there he would pass it around again... since we knew what was in store we were ready, so no surprise after the first ride...
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:35 PM   #57
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Thanks, everyone, I write these posts to straighten out my thinking and to check that I'm not missing something. Maybe I'll re-read this thread in a year or two and marvel at how much has improved.

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Is she still planning to bring a gaggle ("parliament") of Owls to your place for spring break and surf lessons?
After this?!? No, seriously, I think she's blissfully unaware of most of this discussion, and that's pretty much how spouse and I are going to leave it until she brings it up.

The fellow Owls are all pretty enthused, but the round-trip airfare is making them hesitate and several have already backed out. There are also rumors of her NROTC unit spending some time in Mardi Gras during break, and other thoughts that she'd rather stay at Rice to catch up on school work after overloading to 22 credit hours, or earn a little more cash for herself from temp jobs in the Admissions office or with a servery. The plan will change a half-dozen times before spring break, and we've learned to just sit back and see what happens... she might get persuaded to spend spring break surfing in Galveston, assuming she can figure out a way to pay for it!
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:50 PM   #58
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...we've learned to just sit back and see what happens...
I think that is an excellent strategy when it comes to almost all her "de-nesting" activities, including the financial ones. Yeah, I know - easier said than done. But having seen two similar movies a few years ago I'll go ahead and spoil the ending and tell you everything works out just fine.
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:56 PM   #59
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...(snip)...
So, no matter how good you teach.. people have thier own attitudes about money and it will show up in their adulthood... we can not do anything about it....
I agree that we're all going to have somewhat different attitudes and approaches towards money management. If we discuss our approach with our children and model good behavior with our actions that's all we can do. At least we won't be looking back with regret at not having tried to teach what we know. I remind DW that if DS doesn't hear it from us, where are all the good habits going to come from?
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:40 PM   #60
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Nords , Be easy on yourself . Your daughter is eighteen not thirty . They all go through those college days freedom things . Luckily I did not have zip car to add to it but my kids spent plenty . I slowed down spending by the old Irish guilt method and threats . If you party your first year your following years will be on you . If you overspend your first year then you had better graduate in three . It worked . They graduated still blissfully naive but graduates . Finally around thirty ( yes , I said thirty ) they figured out the financial rules and they were smart kids one graduated from MIT and the other from Boston U . Of course Mom handing out money did not help . So relax a little . She will figure it out maybe Sophomore year ?
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