Saturday, 24 January 2015


Imagine this.  You're living at home with your parents and three brothers.  You have a job which is reasonably well-paid.  Your parents insist that you give them your salary each month, and they give a small proportion of it back to you to spend as you will.  The rest goes towards supporting the household.  Your brothers do the same.  None of you are allowed a credit card, in case you run up debts, but your parents have one, which they use quite frequently.

You spend your money wisely, paying for an Open University course and buying all your necessities such as clothes and toiletries.  You've also managed to buy yourself some luxuries such as a smartphone and a tablet, although you spent a bit more than you wanted to on them, which didn't please your parents.  But now you're back on track, balancing your budget and debt-free.  However, you'd like a bit more freedom, and the responsibilities that come with it.  Maybe even strike out on your own.

Your family has a meeting to discuss your desire for more independence.  You present your case, and you can see that some of them find it persuasive.  However, by a slight majority your family decides that you're better off staying with them.  They do recognise, though, that you could cope with a bit more autonomy, and after a long discussion it's decided you will get more of your money returned to you each month, while at the same time you will receive less food and fewer domestic services, as you will now be able to pay for these things yourself.  Further discussions will be had by your parents on how this will work, and they will get back to your with their proposals.

Decision day arrives and your parents sit you down for a talk.

'Well, son, we've thought the situation over and here's what we've decided.  We're going to return 25% of your money to you instead of 10%.  You can also have a credit card'

'Great!', you say, thinking of all the new things you can do with that money to improve your life.

'Hang on, son, there's a few new rules though'

'OK, what are we talking?'

'Firstly, if you want to make any big purchases, you'll have to get permission from us first'

'Oh?  Why's that?'

'Hmmm, suppose you go out and buy a big flat screen TV, for example.  That wouldn't be fair on your brothers if they don't get one.  It would cause arguments and we can't have that'

'Oh.  Can they not get their own TVs?'

'Well they could, but what if they don't want one?  What if they want a small TV?  We can't have one of you with something better than the others'

You feel slightly deflated.

'And the credit card, son?  You have to get one with the lowest possible interest rate and a low credit limit.  We don't want you getting into a lot of debt, and then we have to bail you out.  We just don't have the money for that'

'Really?  But you have a credit card, and you use it a lot'

'We do, but that's for the good of you and your brothers.  Anyway, if you want to use your credit card you'll have to tell us what you want to use it for and how you propose to pay it off.  If we don't think your plan will work, you won't be allowed to buy whatever it is'

You feel even more deflated.  Still, it's a better deal than you have now, even if it's not all you hoped for.

Your parent notice your lack of enthusiasm and try to cheer you up.

'Don't worry son.  We're letting you put any posters you want on the walls of your bedroom.  Now don't say we're not good to you'

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