Debt Interviews

Emily, 14 Years Old and Already Wise About Money and Credit?


Emily is 14 and the daughter of Hillary who I also interviewed (click here).

At 14 Emily is already working and saving her money for something in the purchase. Is it college, riding horses, or another kind of horse, a Mustang?

Listen as Emily shares with us what she has learned so far about money and how she plans to apply that knowledge.

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Interviewer: So just for the record, state your name for me.

Emily Clagett: Emily Clagett.

Interviewer: All right. So I’m traveling around the country, and I’m talking to people about money, credit and debt and you’re one of the young people that I hear about, right? How old are you?
Emily Clagett: Fourteen.
Interviewer: And have you studied money or finance or credit in school at this point? You’re going into the ninth grade –

Emily Clagett: Ninth grade.

Interviewer: – right?

Emily Clagett: Yeah, but no.

Interviewer: No talk about it at all?

Emily Clagett: Well, I learned to write checks when I was in like first grade.
Interviewer: Well, what about saving money? Are you – have you been taught about saving money?

Emily Clagett: Not really.

Mother: Well, I have to disagree with that. (Laughter)
Emily Clagett: Well, like in school or from my mom or my parents?

Interviewer: In life, in life.

Mother: In life.

Emily Clagett: In life? Yeah.

Mother: Mm-hmm.
Interviewer: What have your parents taught you?

Emily Clagett: Not to go spend all the money I have because it’s just – gonna regret it later.

Mother: Well, what do we usually do when you make money? Do you get to keep all the money that you make?

Emily Clagett: No.
Mother: No. What do you usually have to do?

Emily Clagett: Give some of it to my mom.

Mother: Mm-hmm. And do you know how much money you have saved by doing that from babysitting and working at school?

Emily Clagett: No.
Mother: You have close to $500.00 saved.

Emily Clagett: Cool.
Interviewer: So how does it feel to have $500.00? That’s a lotta money for a lotta people.

Emily Clagett: Well, they’re not gonna let me use it, so. (Laughter)
Mother: Well, not right now.

Interviewer: What would you use your money for if you could, your saved money that you’ve made?

Emily Clagett: Well, I’m gonna buy a Mustang.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.
Emily Clagett: They don’t think it’s gonna happen but I am.

Interviewer: Okay, what else?

Emily Clagett: I don’t know.

Interviewer: And –

Mother: If you weren’t – sorry. If you weren’t saving for a Mustang, what would you be saving for? Would you be saving for a specific thing or would you just keep the money in case, until something came along? Like when Steven saved his money and then needed to use it to buy himself a new car, he had all that money. You know, what do you think? Would you save for a specific thing or would you just keep it?

Emily Clagett: Well, I guess I would just keep it.

Interviewer: Do you know kids in your class who just go out and spend money, just buy things they don’t necessarily need?

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Emily Clagett: Yes.
Interviewer: And why do you think they do that?

Emily Clagett: Well, ’cause it’s not their money. It’s their parents’ money.
Interviewer: What kinda stuff do they spend money on?

Emily Clagett: Clothes, phones, stuff.

Interviewer: So have you thought about maybe having – getting a job at some point in the future?

Emily Clagett: Well, I kind of already have one, but it’s only in the summer and I guess, yeah.

Mother: Well, then you also have your standing babysitting dates –
Emily Clagett: Yeah.
Mother: – during the year. I mean you do make money during the school year, not a lot, but you make some.

Interviewer: What about – have you thought about college maybe?

Emily Clagett: Like saving for college?

Interviewer: Like going to college. Have you thought about going to college?
Emily Clagett: Yeah.
Interviewer: And you’re thinking about that’s something you’d like to do?
Emily Clagett: Yeah.
Interviewer: So have you thought about how you’re gonna pay for college?
Emily Clagett: No.
Interviewer: Do you have a credit card?

Emily Clagett: No.
Interviewer: Have you thought about having a credit card?

Emily Clagett: Well, I wish I had one, but my parents won’t let me get one.
Interviewer: Why do you wish you had a credit card?

Emily Clagett: ’Cause then I wouldn’t have to carry around cash.
Mother: Well, Emily and I were just talking about something like that today. She was asking me how store credit cards work as opposed to just a Visa card or MasterCard or something. So I explained it to her and –

Emily Clagett: It was a long time ago.

Mother: No, it was this – yesterday, sorry. And she said the stores that she and her friends like to go to like American Eagle and Aeropostale and all of those things – sorry, Aeropostale. We used to call it Aeropostale back in the day. She said they would do better if they just did a debit card for kids where kids could take in their money, give them their money and they would hold it for them and then be able to spend money there. I thought, “Okay, that’s good.”

Interviewer: I think those stores would like to do that.


Mother: They would probably like that.

Interviewer: That’s a good idea.

Mother: That’s a good idea. Mm-hmm.

Interviewer: So let’s talk about maybe money troubles. Have you known anybody that’s had money troubles?

Emily Clagett: No, I don’t think so. No.

Interviewer: Nobody in school that you’re aware of?

Emily Clagett: Not that I know of.

Interviewer: Have you known anybody that’s lost a house, you know, foreclosure or anything like that?

Emily Clagett: No.

Interviewer: Nobody in your life that you know of has struggled with money?

Emily Clagett: Well, like I know people sometimes are like, “Oh, we can’t spend a lot ’cause the economy’s down and we don’t have a lotta money to spend.” But not like to the point of losing their house or something.

Interviewer: All right. So what do you think when you hear people say that? Is that – that’s okay with you if they don’t go out and spend or do you feel one way or another about that?

Emily Clagett: Well, I mean like if they can’t afford basic things, I’d feel really bad for them and then if they’re just like, “Oh, we can’t go to the mall every week,” it’s like okay.

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Interviewer: So what role does money – do you think money will play in your life as you grow up and get older? Is it an important thing or is life more important?

Emily Clagett: Well, I don’t know. Having money lets you have a better life, so I guess it’s kinda like – I don’t know – even.

Interviewer: So people that have more money are more better?

Emily Clagett: No, but people who have enough money to have a good life generally have better lives. Like not – I don’t know. (Laughter)

Mother: You mean people whose basic needs are met.

Emily Clagett: Yeah, that’s what I mean.

Interviewer: In a comfortable way.

Emily Clagett: Yeah.

Mother: Yes.

Emily Clagett: Yes.

Interviewer: All right. And you know the difference between what a debit card is and a credit card?

Emily Clagett: Now I do.

Interviewer: What’s a debit card?

Emily Clagett: A debit card is where you like – you already have money set aside for it and they just take the money directly when you use the debit card and then a credit card is when you – they like bill you for it and then you have to pay them back.

Interviewer: Okay. When you go into a store and they’re having a sale or an inducement – take out a credit card today and save 10 percent off of your purchase – is that a good thing to do to get that card?

Emily Clagett: Well, no. I don’t think so ’cause if you get the card and you – if you get the card and then you spend a lotta money at the store you still owe them a lotta money and then if – with interest you’re gonna have to eventually pay more than that 10 percent you got off.

Interviewer: Very smart. How about something that’s like you can have it today – you can have a Mustang today and not make any payments for six months? Would you be more willing to buy a Mustang then?

Emily Clagett: No, ’cause you still have to pay for it. It’s not like it’s free or something.

Interviewer: I just want to hug her.


Mother: Well, let’s see when she turns 20 and 21 if this all still stays in her head.

Interviewer: I’ll be back and we’ll play this.


Mother: Yeah, you have a very good grasp on how it works and how they entice people into spending their money when they really don’t have the money to spend, so – but you aren’t involved in that spending yet, so when you really and truly could get these things, I wonder if you’ll still feel this way. What you know and what you do don’t always work the same way.

Emily Clagett: Good.

Mother: It’s not always the same.

Interviewer: All right, well, thank you, Emily.

Emily Clagett: You’re welcome.

Interviewer: Thank you, Hillary.

Mother: You’re welcome.



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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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