By KATE HUNTER
It’s official I’ve turned into my father.
I’ll wander through the house, flicking off lights, muttering, ‘This place is lit up like a Christmas tree.’
My kids look at me blankly. No, it doesn’t. There is no tinsel, no glittery angel. Our house is not in the least Christmas-tree like.
‘Why does it matter if the lights are on?’ asked my daughter.
‘Because it costs money when lights are on – and when we use the heaters or the air conditioning and charge the iPad.’
‘Really?’ My daughter was about five at the time, and I could almost hear her mind whirring. ‘How could it cost money to turn the lights on or use the iPad? Are they like the rides at the shops – where do you put the coins?’
‘I’ll explain it when you’re older. But for now, if you’re not in a room, turn the lights off.’
‘Because I said so.’ With that, I knew I’d become my Mum too.
So, what age should I talk to my kids about money and bills and family expenses?
No one wants to burden children with adult worries– they should start thinking about money by playing shops and charging ‘fifty eleventy dollars’ for a banana.
But when they start asking for things that cost more than an ice-cream, or calculating how much money they need if they’re to buy a video camera, then I think they’re old enough to know that someone pays for the broadband that will upload their videos to You Tube. And that the person that pays is the person with the power.
It astounds me the number of young teenagers who have smartphones paid for by their parents – many I speak to have no clue what kind of plan their phone is on. They just have it.
And that’s fine – until the time comes that they have to pay for it themselves, or they go way over the data allowance and a not-fun ‘family meeting’ is called.