The teen passed his driving test. Finally, he could go somewhere without his parents giving him a ride. He went to see each of his friends so they could celebrate his being behind the wheel, then he went to the movies, and then he went out to eat. It was a wonderful day!
The next morning, Mom got in the car and turned it on. Within minutes, she was back in the house and sitting in front of her new driver.
"You forgot something yesterday," she said.
He couldn’t imagine what it was, so she had him walk out to the car with her and turn the ignition. Everything still looked fine to him.
"Look at the gas gauge," she said.
He did. The indicator was right above empty. He still didn’t see a problem. Mom, however, did.
"When you use the car, you are using the gas. Gas costs money. I pay for the car, but you will have to pay for your own gas," she said.
He was astounded.
"If I have to pay for the gas, I couldn’t afford the movie and the meal," he explained, obviously feeling that Mom just wasn’t able to understand the situation.
"The cost of the gas is just as much a part of your outing as the cost of the movie or the price of the meal. You have to pay for the gas you use. That means you will have to decide between the movie and the meal if you can’t afford both after you pay for the gas. It’s called budgeting," Mom said.
"That’s not fair. I WANT to do both. You’re being mean," he complained.
"No, I’m being real. If I pay for your gas, I have to cut something else out of my budget. Either way the gas has to be paid for. That’s reality. Reality isn’t mean – it’s just reality. And in real budgeting, you have to make real decisions, even if you don’t particularly like them," she answered.
Every single one of us has had this conversation – as the adult, the teen, or both. The item being paid for was probably different for each of us. But each of us stood before our own economic reality and realized that we couldn’t have everything we wanted because we couldn’t afford everything we wanted. And each of us learned that we had to make decisions about spending based on the reality of what was in our wallets.
Don’t you wonder what happened to the folks in Washington?
They are all trying to continue to drive the government "car" without paying for the gasoline. They are all looking for another parent (translate taxpayer) to provide them with free fuel so they can continue to go to the movies AND go out to eat. They are all complaining that the idea that they have to make decisions on what they can spend based on the reality of what is in their wallets is unfair and mean.
Perhaps the mothers of America need to have a conversation with each of them. Maybe this time they will listen.