Happy Faduation Day: One Whopper of a Week


Things you might learn: Budgeting tips

Tassels swung wildly, and our glasses sloshed with celebratory concoctions this week to commemorate Alex’s graduation from high school and Nate’s 18th Father’s Day celebration. In true Fixin’ Leeks and Leaks style, we marked these milestones the same way that we approach New Year’s Eve: with a rip-roaring romp through spreadsheets and sound budgeting practices.

You see, now that Alex has graduated from high school and has started a summer job as a lifeguard/swim coach/swim instructor—and will go to college majoring in engineering—Nate wants to pass on to him a gift of money management.

Nate and I learned years ago, that if we give Alex a few dollars, he’ll eat Chipotle burritos for a day. But, if we teach him to budget his money, he’ll eat Chipotle burritos for a lifetime.

So, here are a few tips and tricks we want to pass along:

Saving for College.

When Alex was just two solid lines on a pregnancy stick, Nate and I started saving for college tuition for him. Seriously. We didn’t even know if the pregnancy would last. We didn’t even care if Alex wanted to go to college or not. We just started saving. We have enough for four years of tuition—at a state school—but not for dorms. We thought Alex would want to stay with us during college. Turns out, he does not. And we hadn’t counted on the possibility of a pandemic-triggered increase in tuition (which could happen). So, we’ll have to keep working.

Getting a Credit Card.

 When we realized that Alex would be on a college campus, needing to pay for things like pizza parties and chipping in to replace damaged doors and such, we decided he should have a credit card. Nate walked him through the steps. Here’s how the whole thing went down:

Alex: Wow! Look at the pretty colors!

Nate: (Says nothing, puts his head in his hands).

Alex: (Fumbles his way through security questions.)

Automated Voice on the Phone: Your card is now activated for immediate use.

Alex: Holy crap!

Setting Up a Budget.

Nate plans on getting Alex to list his one-time sources of revenue, such as graduation gift money, graduation savings, etc. (Some people might also have grants or loans.) Then, he will ask Alex to list his ongoing revenue—perhaps from summer jobs.)

Next, Alex will have to list one-time expenses (hopefully a study-abroad trip and not, “Hey, I saw a Chipotle restaurant for sale, so I bought it.”) Logically, his ongoing expenses (gas for the car, books, tuition, etc.) would be listed next.

Finally, he should subtract one total from the other, and if the total amount is negative, he should stop buying Chipotle restaurants. If it’s positive, he can rock on. Also, (pro-tip from Nate): He should pay off his credit card 100% each time.


 Two lines on a stick really add up to so much. I never thought they’d turn out to be such an amazing young man who would graduate valedictorian, spread awareness about mental health issues, and show so much empathy and compassion for others. I never thought that helping him prepare to leave the house—with a budget intact—would make me cry. But here I am, weeping over spreadsheets—saying things like, “I’m always here. I love you. Those two lines were the best day of my life and look at you now.” Not crying. I’m not crying. . . I’m totally crying.

IMG_8056 Left Side

In Other News: I have another horror story up this week: “Appointment Reminder” on Timber Ghost Press’s website. It involves a trip to a dentist’s office, a creepy appointment reminder, and loss/grieving/death.

Your Turn: What advice do you have for graduates?


33 thoughts on “Happy Faduation Day: One Whopper of a Week

  1. Congratulations! I wish someone had taught me those tips. Advice: Welcome to the world of adults where we make a lot of mistakes and often won’t admit it. Always work to be your best self. Many won’t get you, but a few will; some will be in your life for a season and a very few will last. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhh, I love this! Two lines on a stick are life changing for everyone involved, and possibly some Chipotle employees, in your case. It sounds like you have a wonderful son on your hands ready to take on the world.

    My eldest is 15 and already talking about wanting a part time job. He was in third grade when he created his own spreadsheet, involving cheeses for family cheese tasting events. I hope his cheese spreadsheet days will carry over into slightly more important spreadsheets, such as budgeting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So exciting! Love that you are teaching him the value of budgets and understanding that the credit card doesn’t mean free reign for a spend fest. I think that the biggest thing that college kids need to understand is limits. How to set limits for yourself and stick to them. I will not stay up for 24 hours. I will not eat everything on the Chipolte menu. I will learn to limit the alcohol I drink. I will learn to balance work and fun… maybe? You’ve given him roots and wings… and he is ready to fly, but still knows how to be grounded

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats! Drink sloshing sounds fun, too, and that cake looks amazing! We just got credit cards for all our kids, even the 3 -y-o b/c they can start establishing credit now. Who knew? Not us until recently. The cards are just going in a drawer to be unused until a suitable time/age, but still, lucky them!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations to Nate! And a credit card is a great idea, not only to pay for pizza but to build up a good credit score. Congratulations on the story too—you’re on a great roll!

    Liked by 1 person

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