Debt, DD3, and Justin Bieber

DH = Dear Husband
DD3 = Dear Third Daughter
               “How is [DD3]?” I asked DH over the phone before driving home from work last Friday. 
               “She came home from school, went right up to her room, turned off the lights, and got into bed.”
               Ugh!  Awful feeling for parents to know that they have been the cause of their child’s misery. 
               Apparently, in May or June of this year, DD3 asked us if we would buy her tickets for November’s Justin Bieber concert.  “And what did we say?”  I asked DD3, trying to recall it.  We had told her, when Bieber came to town two years ago, that she’d be able to go next time.  She answered, “You said that you couldn’t because of your debt.”  It sure sounds like something we’d say.  Especially in May or June when we were new to our journey out of debt and our knee-jerk response to any consideration was, “NO.”  There was a reason why DH and I couldn’t remember her request:  She’d never complained about our answer.  More ugh!

Passing the Torch of Good Money Sense to the Next Generation

DD3 has been remarkably tolerant of our mission to become debt-free.  She makes it clear that she’s heard enough money talk already, thank you very much, but she accepts the resulting boundaries with good grace.  DD3 gets a monthly clothing allowance from us, and in our efforts to teach healthy money habits, we’ve imposed some policy on her management of this allowance.  20% goes into a savings account; 10% goes to a charity of her choice; the remaining 70% is hers to spend on clothes or gifts or movies or treats.  So far, she wipes it out well before the end of each month, but she then awaits the new month with patience.  Eventually, we hope she’ll learn to pace her spending of that 70% better, but she’s on the right track, and she’s developed the practice of giving, saving, and spending.
               “What am I going to use the money in the bank for?” she asked when we first started this system.  I hesitated because I didn’t have a good answer.  Would she blow it all on a car some day?  Was she to use it to supplement the funds we’ll have saved for college or university?  Or were her savings to be for an even longer-term purpose?  For a house?  For retirement?  Retirement!  She’s not even in high school yet.  Isn’t that ridiculous?  I still don’t know.  All I know is that saving is a good habit to develop for all of the above.  Since I provided no answer, she suggested, “Will I use it to pay off my debts?”  I felt a surge of maternal warmth and mortification.  She had learned to accept debt as an inevitability.  And DH and I were clearly talking about it too much.  “Sweet-heart, we’re hoping to help set you up so that you never have debts to pay off,” I explained.  That thought sat with her for a moment before she said quite serenely, “I feel so secure.”

The Night of the Concert

               But what good is security when you’re a Belieber and you can’t go to the concert?  What comfort is a growing savings account when all of your friends are going and are talking about nothing else?  Her anguish started about a week before the concert, and it only grew with every passing day.  DH and I realized that we’d made a mistake.  We’d been too quick to say “NO.”  But what could we do?
               I walked into the house after work last Friday with a last-ditch-effort crazy kind of plan.  I talked with DH about it right away, fully expecting him to be against it.  “Go for it,” he said.  And I did.  I walked up to DD3’s room, turned on her light, and sat on the side of her bed.  She looked at me with the face of despair.
               “[DD3], I’m ready to do something crazy.  But there’s a chance it won’t work, so you’ve got to be prepared for disappointment.”  I gave her a brief explanation of scalping – very brief since I’d had no prior experience with it besides ignoring scalpers and wondering with some contempt why anyone would ever buy from them.  The concert was only two and a half hours away, so we had to make our decision quickly.  DD3 was game.  Within twenty minutes, we were ready to go.  Within another ten minutes, we were at the bank where I took out twice the cash DH and I had agreed upon as a maximum – just in case.  In a state of suspended animation, we drove into one of the heavily staffed parking lots.  “Mom, you have to pay for parking!”  DD3 exclaimed in concern.  Had I passed my guilt on to her?  “It’s OK,” I assured her, “I knew I’d have to pay for parking.  It’s alright.”
               Soon, we were part of a stream of adolescent and pre-adolescent girls and moms – a few dads, brothers, and good-sport boyfriends scattered in the mix.  I would have to make my move soon.  How did one go about finding a scalper?  What was I to say when I did?  Before I could formulate my script, he was stepping out to speak directly to me.  “Would you like to buy some tickets?”  He held them out in a tantalizing fan.  “Yes.” I answered.  Cheap seats or better seats?  “Cheap,” I said.  He pulled out two, right beside each other, right by the aisle, $100 each.  That was actually better than I’d hoped for.  I’m not adept at driving a hard bargain.  “I’ve never done this before,” I confessed to him.  He assured me it was alright.
               We had them!  The tickets were in our hands!  DD3’s sadness was vanquished by an incredulous happiness.  I was the best mom in the world, and this was the best night of her life!  Our $50 seats (I had a vague notion that I’d be paying double) were way up in the nose-bleed section at the end of the horseshoe.  We were at the aisle as promised.  And absolutely nobody was sitting to my right.  Thousands upon thousands filled the seats to our left and below us, and as the anticipation grew, so did DD3’s joy.  The advantage of sitting at the end of the horseshoe is that you can see back stage.  We exchanged waves with the people who performed in the opening acts before they stepped into the limelight.
                
               “Look!  He’s there!”  I pointed to the Biebs himself, getting into the zone all in his winged glory backstage before he flew out to begin his show.  The first high-pitched scream to pierce my ear was DD3’s, but soon the whole mass of female adolescence joined her as Justin made his entrance.  My future son-in-law kept his fans enthralled from start to finish.  

               Was I prudent?  I think I was.  It would have been wiser to have purchased the tickets ahead of time, but it’s prudent to acknowledge mistakes.  It’s wrong to give a knee-jerk “NO” to every opportunity – even when getting out of debt.  So I have no regrets.  DH and I made up for our mistake, and there was “one less lonely girl” last Friday night.

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