Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: April 30, 2010 Archive

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 30, 2010 by Dale Connelly (35 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

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Dear Dr. Heartlander,

Last year our daughter turned 16 and begged for a credit card linked to our checking and savings accounts. All her friends had that kind of access, she said. And besides, it would help her learn the value of money.

Reluctantly we gave in, and Ashley proceeded to wager our family savings in an internet betting pool focused on the outcome of "American Idol". I suppose it could have turned out OK except that nasty Simon Cowell said some stupid thing to turn the whole nation against our pick and we lost everything. Under the best of circumstances, an impulsive kid wouldn't get the kind of freedom that allows this to happen, but she assured us she knew what she was doing and we believed her.

Silly us.

Anyway, we've taken out some major loans to stay afloat and we're re-grouping, trying to put our lives back together. One of the tasks is to come up with a set of spending rules for Ashley so she doesn't do this again. I think I have a written a reasonable set of strict guidelines full of common sense limits backed up with a series of checks and balances, but her mother says my rules are too harsh and they'll drain Ashley of her free enterprise initiative, sending the message that big daddy is going to take control of all the variables, risk is bad and playing a hunch should be avoided at all costs.

That's exactly the message I mean to send. No gambling!

Ashley's mother points out that she rolled the dice when she married me and the jury is still out as to whether or not that huge, irrational gamble paid off. Under rules similar to the ones I'm proposing, she says, I would never have had a chance.

I'm confused. I thought this was about money.
Should I re-consider?

Sincerely,

Too Big To Fail

Here's what I told TBTF: "Good rules are an important part of any game, and Ashley does seem to view this as a game above all else. If her "free enterprise initiative" is easily damaged by a few limitations, it wasn't going to take her very far anyway. Her mother is probably just trying to scare you, which is also an important part of any system of oversight. Note the risk and move forward with care and determination."

But that's just my opinion.

What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?


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