I'm pretty sure Apple can't be hurting even though Steve Jobs is not at the helm anymore. My kid's went back to school last week and mentioned to meet the glut of Apple products that other students got from Santa Clause over the holiday season. Apparently, even the elementary students stocked up on I-Pads, I-Touch, and the middle/high school students racked up on the I-Phones. We all know that none of these technology gadgets are cheap to buy. However, one of the topics that people don't like to discuss is who will bear the cost for the data plan. This is where the real dollars and cents add up over the long term.
Parents will have varying opinions on this, but I'm of the opinion that when you child hits high school that you want to have them own part of the monthly data plan. Each year that they get older, you should have them bear more and more of the cost of the plan until they can handle the monthly bill on their own. That means by the time they get to college, you'll put them in a position to make sure they have some responsibility over the monthly bill and what it really costs to have the technology they use every day. Otherwise, the I-Phone will be just another leaf on the money tree in your household.
I caved in over the holidays and let my daughter get the I-Phone. I was smart enough to let family members know my oldest daughter wanted an I-Phone, so they all sent various forms of gift cards to make the purchase of the actual I-Phone. Since we are on a family share plan, the cost of the overall data plan was about $30 per month. What I agreed to with my daughter was to pay for $20 per month of the plan and she would pay for $10 per month of the plan. Every year she advances in high school, she'll pick up an extra $5 per month on the plan until she goes off to college.
I often think about how she must feel my I-Phone charging policy is unfair since I'll bet most of her friend's parents just pay the bill. We all get to make our own choices about what we'll provide our kid's, but I just don't think she will learn the value of a buck unless she has some ownership and responsibility in the bill. It will just make her value that I-Phone much more than if I was just paying the bill myself.
Just like a chip off the old block, my daughter accepted this news with the maturity of a 25 year old. She figured out if she babysits a couple of times per month, paying me $10 (roughly what she makes per hour) shouldn't be a problem. The best news is that I see her treating that I-Phone like it's the best present she ever got in her life! Who pays the data plan? You can choose for yourself, but we really value most in life the things we work hard for to pay for ourselves.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc
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