Lori and Marek Fuchs have never fought in their 16 years of marriage—except over money. In this column, Mr. and Mrs. Fuchs, a real-life married couple with three kids (ages 12, 8 and 5), articulate their very different approaches to personal finance.
This round, he says lunch money offers the right opportunity for personal finance lessons to last a lifetime. She says: over my dead body.
When a financially oriented dad has it out with a nutritionally oriented mom, who do you think will win?
Mr. Fuchs: Honey, you might not like this at first, but hear me out. Do you think hunger can work as a financial planning tool for the kids?
Mrs. Fuchs: Are you kidding me? What parenting manual have you been reading?
Mr. Fuchs: You are the one bound by those parenting tomes. I’m a free spirit here, talking personal finance (harnessed to common sense. Kids make most of their purchasing decisions with lunch tray in hand. We can’t let the opportunity pass. It’ll be the best life lesson they learn in school. We need to give them a set amount of lunch money at the start of the week or month. They can spend it as they see fit, but if the gorge on Swiss Rolls on Monday, they are going to awful hungry come Friday. Point made. Lesson learned. Budget. Or else.
Mrs. Fuchs: Swiss Rolls? What the heck is a Swiss Roll and why would they gorge on it? Anyway, you don’t think they are getting enough lessons from the allowance system we’ve set up without resorting to draconian hunger scenarios? Besides, an awful lot of schools have these prepaid accounts in the cafeteria, including our daughter’s. I deposit money in it and she accesses it with a secret code. I can even check how many of those “all natural” sodas she buys each month. But I’ve been refilling it when she runs out – not letting her go hungry.
Mr. Fuchs: It’s like our public schools are indoctrinating kids into the American way of life early: you don’t even pay cash, just hand over a card or recite a pin number and tons of goodies like Swiss Rolls magically appear. By the way, a Swiss Roll is a little like a Hostess Ho Ho. I practically grew up on them. Anyhow, you don’t think that especially if kids are eating thanks to an account they can drain with a single hunger pang, we should fight back?