When kids make mistakes, parents are left cleaning up the mess. But, as the saying goes, “Kids will be kids,” or, as Ellin Keene of Denver, Colo., puts it: “Your kid is your kid. They are doing the best they can. Lighten up about money.”
Ahead of Mother’s Day, the MagnifyMoney team asked moms like Keene to reveal some of the more expensive mistakes their kids have made — and who covered the bill.
“My daughter lit her bedroom on fire.”
For Keene, it was a $1,000 bill to repaint and replace furniture for her then-teenage daughter’s bedroom in the family’s newly purchased home.
“She was in high school and she was up very late working on a paper, and she decided to print the paper, but she had a candle burning near the paper,” Keene told MagnifyMoney. “So, within a week of moving into the new house she lit her bedroom on fire.”
That one decision cost Keene’s daughter a few nights out with friends in high school and cost her parents $1,000.
“My son broke a fence and cost me $2,000.”
A decision made in anger by Alicia Bethea’s then-teenage son resulted in a $2,000 repair bill.
After her son got into an argument, she says he kicked and broke a fence outside of the family’s home in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I had to pay back for that. To do the cementing, to have the guys come in. That [was] the worst expense that my kids ever did to me,” said Bethea.
“My daughter wrecked a rental car in Greece.”
Cathy Moran from Riverdale, N.Y., recently woke to a call from her daughter, who was vacationing in Crete, Greece. Her daughter was fortunately healthy and well, but she couldn’t say the same for the car she rented for her trip.
“To avoid killing an animal that somehow jumped out of nowhere, she ran the rental car on the side of the road, and it incurred some damage. She said it cost $400,” said Moran.
Luckily, her daughter was able to offset some of the cost. The 21-year-old put half of the total on her own debit card and charged the other half to her parents’ credit card.
“She spent $3,000 on concert tickets.”
Buffalo, N.Y., mom Kim Krantz and her husband said they asked their teenage daughter, Kali, to purchase the family’s tickets to a concert while her parents were out of town. Things took a left turn when Kali ordered the tickets through a shady online reseller.
“She went on and bought six tickets, and the total came up to like $3,000. We weren't home and she kind of did it and didn't check the prices,” said Krantz. She and her husband reported the transaction unauthorized to avoid paying up.
“He missed his flight at Christmastime.”
Sevil Oner’s son was supposed to wrap up his college finals in Washington, D.C., then hop on a flight to Kauai, Hawaii, to meet up with the rest of his family for Christmas. Then sleep intervened.
“We got a call saying he had overslept and missed his flight. The next flight they could put him on was four days later, which was after Christmas, so we told him to find any flights and start going west,” Oner told MagnifyMoney.
Her son took a series of flights — from D.C. to Los Angeles, then Honolulu, then to Maui — over two days and landed in Kauai on Christmas morning.
Thankfully, the family vacations often and most of her son’s flights were covered by insurance. Oner said the one flight they paid for and their son’s hotel stays cost her and her husband an additional $500 on a credit card.
“That’s now a fun story; at the time it was pretty maddening,” said Oner.
“I became their emergency credit card fund.”
Maria Grimoldi from Kansas City, Mo., says she taught her two daughters to be frugal and stay out of credit card debt while growing up, but their taste for expensive brands was no match for the teachings.
“I usually ended up having to foot the bill when they ran out of money, as well as using credit card debt,” says Grimoldi.
Grimoldi says her daughters make better financial choices now, so the mistakes they made early on may have paid off.
“I try to look at it as learning opportunities when they make those mistakes. I think it's important to … see them as opportunities,” Grimoldi told MagnifyMoney.
One daughter, the one Grimoldi says won her high school’s homecoming queen title with the help of trendy, name-brand clothing, now has her own child.
“She's a mom herself and learning how to budget. It’ll be payback time, I'm sure,” says Grimoldi.
MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.