How a Lie is Helping Me Save for Retirement

meet the latest contributor to my Roth IRA


On Monday, I received an email from my son’s school guidance counselor. Did I realize that he had a ton of homework over the weekend, none of which was completed? Well, no…..

Now I’ll be the first to admit that my memory only lasts about 24 hours. But I distinctly remember the conversation last Friday afternoon. It went like this:

Me: So, how much homework do you have this weekend?

Jayden: NONE!

Me: Not even in your Friday Folder? (The Friday Folder holds all the assignments he failed to finish during the week, for torture completion over the weekend.)

Jayden: Nope! I worked really hard in 6th period and got everything done. So now can I play video games all weekend? That is, when I’m not busy reminding you what an amazing mother you are?

Me: Of course you can, my darling child! And I’ll make a nutritious, home-cooked meal from scratch while giving the windows their once-a-week cleaning.

Okay, so those last few moments are a little fuzzy. But the point remains - my child is, yet again, a lying liar who lies.

The Back Story

For those of you who don’t know, Jayden has Asperger’s Syndrome. You can read a slightly less stabby version of what that means for him, but basically, middle school is a nightmare. Homework is a nightmare. If he manages to finish high school, I’m bringing my own cap to throw in the air because THAT is how excited I’ll be to escape what I thought I escaped at my own graduation.

At the end of last school year, I blamed myself for his crappy grades and lack of effort. This year, though, I’m realizing a few things about raising a teenager. And for the record, it SUCKS!

Asperger’s does not prevent him from manipulating to get his way, lying about things he doesn’t want to do, or using his diagnosis as an excuse. The brutal honesty he showed as a child isn’t gone; he’ll still bust out things like, “No thanks, I always eat before we come over here because your cooking makes me sick,” or “My burp just tasted like cheeseburger but I haven’t eaten a burger all week!” (Those gems never fail to make me wish I could disappear.) But underneath that lack of social understanding is a newfound epiphany - Lying can prevent me from getting in trouble if I learn to do it well!

What This Has to Do With Retirement

When I found out Jay lied to me about having homework last Friday, I nearly blew a gasket. He knows how much I despise lying - in fact, he was grounded from all electronic devices last Thursday for the exact same thing. After I responded to the guidance counselor’s email with something like, “Don’t worry, he’ll be grounded until he dies,” I began contemplating his punishment.

There’s a viral video on YouTube where a father shoots holes in his daughter’s laptop after she talked smack about her parents on Facebook. While I applaud his approach, I’m not quite financially secure enough to destroy a brand new Xbox. Yet merely grounding Jay, even for several months, didn’t seem like enough.

I posted on Facebook, offering the Xbox with its accessories and games for sale. Within minutes, I had an inbox full of people interested in buying it. Last night I sold it for $350 - money that is going straight to my Roth IRA. Why? Because if getting him to adulthood is going to give me gray hair, I’m going to let him contribute to my old lady hair dye fund every time he acts like an idiot.

Some people have openly disagreed with my methods - my mother, for one - but I’m sick of the role that video games have taken in my son’s life. Autistic kids tend to obsess over things, and video games have absolutely consumed Jay for the last few years. Now that he has no video game console, no cell phone, no allowance, and no access to his computer until his grades improve, guess what he spent the last two nights doing (other than his homework)? READING A BOOK. Score one for Mom.

Preparing for Future Contributions

Now that I’m angry and the precedent is set, I’m looking forward to Jayden’s future contributions to my retirement savings. I’d like to think this incident will cure him, but I know that liars often take time to reform. So I informed him of my other plans to help him conquer his filthy habit:

Next time: Everything but his mattress will be removed from his room and stored in the attic.

The next: His belongings will be auctioned off on eBay. All of them.

After that: I will smash his computer with a sledgehammer and I will never buy him another one.

If it continues: He will receive a brand new wardrobe consisting of nothing but pink shirts and capri pants.

From there: I’m not putting anything in writing. Jail is no good for me.

Of course, right now all Jayden cares about is earning enough money to buy another Xbox. So I told him he can earn one dollar for every A on an assignment and 50 cents for every B. Every grade below that will knock a dollar off his balance. He’s not allowed to supplement the fund with birthday money or money from any future job he may have. Every time he lies to me, the balance will be transferred to my IRA, on top of the consequences listed above. At this rate, he should have enough money for a new game console right about the time he’s graduating high school.

Either way it goes, both of our futures are looking brighter already.

  • Travis Pizel

    I applaud you for being a hard ass when it was needed, and for following through with a harsh punishment. I see so many parents (I’m guilty of this as well) threaten to bestow a harsh punishment when it is appropriate and earned, only to back out. This teaches our children nothing.

    If it wasn’t before, it is crystal clear to him that you mean exactly what you say.

    BTW, if you get to the point where he gets the pink shirts and capris, all shirts should be screen printed with the words “Mommy’s Favorite Pumpkin.”

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      When one of my cousins was younger, she was the biggest brat on the planet. I threatened to spank her one night when I was babysitting, and she said, “My mom says that all the time, but she never does it.” That’s when I realized that following through is more important than the punishment itself. That philosophy has served me well so far, though I admit I’ve been ready to pull my hair out this week.

  • Suzanne Cramer

    Andrea this article is fantastic! While my son does not have Asperger’s he does have the ADHD thing and at the ripe old age of 8 years old his inner teenager is already starting to bust out. While Ethan doesn’t lie about homework he does have this horrible lying habit…about dumb stuff. I love your idea about punishment, in fact you will be happy to know Ethan’s psychologist suggested a similar punishment tactic. Score one for mom for sure and your retirement fund!

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      What is it that makes kids think it’s a good idea to lie? That just drives me crazy! I would seriously rather him punch me in the face than lie to me - it would be much easier to deal with.

  • Sunisshining3

    OMG sister I feel your pain, raising teenagers is rough. My 16-year-old son and I got into it yesterday, he was just being so moody and disrespectful. Finally I told him I was leaving to get groceries and pick up my other son, who’s 4, and if the entire house wasn’t clean by the time I got back, he would be trading bedrooms with his little brother (meaning the little guy gets the cable hookup and the much-bigger room). He was like, “You wouldn’t do that.” I said, “Test me, please, because I promise I will.” He didn’t test me, he cleaned, but we’re still not exactly on great terms.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      People keep telling me it will just get worse from 13-17 or so, and I’m really not sure I can handle it without ending up in the loony bin! But I guess I’m being paid back for my own teenage years - people always described me with words like “stubborn” and “willful.” If only teenagers could look beyond their own selfishness and see what heartache they cause their parents!

      • Sunisshining3

        It’s not all doom and gloom, from my experience. It gets worse, then better, then worse, and so on. For a week or so, we’ll be best friends and he’s sweet as pie. Then some girl issue comes up, or something at school, and he’s demon spawn. You definitely have to develop a thick skin, but it seems like you’ve got it handled Mom (better than me, I confess I’ve done the threaten and no follow-through routine before)

  • Cash Flow Mantra

    Good for you, although I would reconsider the sledgehammer thing and go with eBay for the computer as well. No sense throwing away a couple good hair colorings.

    Yes, you realized how important it is to follow through with threats. My kids know when I say something, that I mean business. And it does get tougher as they get older, although my boys don’t seem quite as annoying as the girls.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      The reasoning behind smashing the computer is that it’s ridiculously obsolete. I was actually planning to buy him a new one for Christmas because it’s so outdated and slow, though I have since decided that he doesn’t deserve it unless something changes drastically between now and then!

  • Bridget


    I think what you did is fine. I wouldn’t worry about people that disagree — you know your son better than any of us, so you know how to handle his behaviour better than anyone else.

    Besides, saving for retirement is really important!

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Exactly! I want to retire someday, so I need to make saving a priority. I keep hoping I’ll get to sell his TV - it’s nicer than the one in my living room! (He got it as a gift from his grandparents.)

  • Bogofdebt

    What an excellent idea. I remember when I acted out (I’m a horrible liar and always have been so that was never an issue…I lied once and I had such a bad experience that I vowed to never lie again-and I can’t even do the little lies of “sure those pants look great on you” or “I don’t know what you got for Christmas/birthday”) that my parents tailored my punishment to fit me. I wasn’t grounded to my room, I was grounded away from it.

  • Daisy

    Wow, thats awesome. I mean, if my mom did that when we lied to her, we’d have never lied to her! How did he react?

  • Rachel

    I think that’s awesome. I’m sure this will get his attention. You may only have to sell off half his stuff.

  • Mochi & Macarons

    You lady, are an inspiration.

    I definitely applaud you for following through. Too many parents, do a lot of talking and do a lot of threatening to sell stuff, but none actually do it.

    *clap clap clap*

  • lilme

    This is my life! Exchange XBOX for LEGOS and you got it. Sounds lame right? but a simple things like getting dressed, doing chores, or brushing your teeth are torture when there a lego’s in his room. Only peice of mind i get is when i take them away. ALL of them. I have an eight year old going on 16. Im worried he may have HDHD, havent made the move to get him diagnosed. It scares me to think that all his teacher may be right. Im determined to prove we can do it with love, discipline, and hard work!!! Kudos to you and your follow through!!!

  • Niki

    I think this is fantastic. It is kind of motivation for you to do the whole follow through thing too. While I know it isn’t the most delightful way to grow your IRA, at least it is serving a purpose than just punishment. Good luck to you with this.

    I recently cut back on my son’s video game time too. During the week he is only allowed 30 minutes. He was completely obsessed with Minecraft and his school work was suffering, even with him doing his homework. His grade are coming back up and he has also started reading and drawing more at home.

  • Beating Broke

    I see nothing wrong with what you did. I also like how you managed to find a way to also reward him for good behavior (that he can still screw up if he lies) to give him that extra incentive to work hard on the schoolwork. Each of our kids is a little different and they all react differently to different punishments/rewards, so if you find something that works for Jay, more power to you.

    I so am not looking forward to the teenage years…

  • Jessica Lancaster

    I think this is fantastic! I am a first grade teacher, and even with the young ones I can tell who gets away with certain things, like lying. There are some parents who don’t even respond when you tell them that their child lied or did something they shouldn’t have. I am happy that you are a parent taking responsibility and doing something about your son’s behavior. Bravo!

  • Jesort415

    I love it! I wish I could do the same but 1. the Xbox belongs to hubby and 2. well my son is only 4.5 so this might be too harsh for him to understand and too young to get just yet but your point of the follow thru is what really stuck with me. My son has PDD and I always feel bad punishing him cause he’s different. Now I realize I better get over that real quick!

  • April Stotler

    As a person with no children, I usually try and keep my nose out of anyone’s parenting. But I can’t help but cheer when I read this! I was a full time nanny for around a year and there was so little I could do in terms of discipline. So from a non-parent, GO YOU!

    This will be good for him. Don’t let him back you down. ^_^

  • KNS_Financial

    I think you did the right thing! You have to teach him that there will be severe consequences to disobedience and dishonestly. If he knows how much you hate it, yet continues to do it, then you have to take steps like these.

    My brother does the same thing with my niece, and it definitely works for her!

  • Newlyweds on a Budget

    You can’t see me right now, but I am giving my computer a standing ovation on your behalf. I HATE video games and I saw my brothers waste HOURS in front of video games instead of being outside and playing. I vowed to my husband I would never let a video game console inside of our house, and even though he jokes about getting a Playstation, I would seriously go crazy and throw it out. I don’t have kids yet, but I want to hold off as long as possible before I ever introduce video games. And dude, seriously, I am sooo happy that you stuck to your guns. The U,S. needs more parents like you who actually stand up to their kids and follow through with harsh punishments rather than the ones who beg their kids to be their friend.

  • Kacie

    Good for you! Hopefully this will be a lesson that sticks with him.

  • Martilyo

    Good on you! If he won’t learn then at least your retirement account will prosper…

  • MOMZilla

    Good for you. I actually think that the dad in the laptop video should have sold her laptop rather than destroy it. And then spent the money on himself.

    It is hard to parent correctly, esp. Aspies. They are intelligent and (in my kid’s case) able to figure out the path of least resistance, even if it involves lying. At least this will show him VERY clearly cut, you lie — you lose stuff.

  • Young Professional Finances

    At first I was hesitant over the selling of the Xbox thing - seemed like it could do more harm than good if he held it against you and refused to do ANY work. But then I saw your plan from here on - the dollar per A plan, not your 5-step go to jail plan - and I really like that. I think that’s a great plan for putting the matter in his own hands and even helping him make financial decisions.

  • SPF

    I love this! You meant BUSINESS! I think often times, parents forget that they are the parent, and not the friend. My daughter is only 2 so, I don’t have the issue with video games, not doing homework, etc. But trust me, if it does get to that, things will surely be sold, given away, taken away, etc.

  • Aloysa @My Broken Coin

    Wow! You are one tough mother, I have to give you this. But when everything fails, something needs to be done, right? After all it still stays in the family! Just in a different currency.


    Posts like this make me happy I have cats…

    I completely applaud your efforts and follow through though. If only more parents did this!

  • Rafiki

    Selling the xbox and investing in retirement, nice I see nothing wrong with your methods, there is a small possibility the wardrobe change doesn’t work though. For one, that may become a new fashion, or secondly, he might just not care about what other people think of his clothes and just wear them because they may save him money(you know, the PF attitude).
    I have a friend who when he was about 4 or so told his dad he hated school, his dad took away the TV for 5+ years I think it was and this affected him and his two brothers. Safe to say he learned his lesson there. Another time he did want to share his ps2(when those were the latest and greatest) so his dad slammed it in the ground and it broke. Once again, lesson learnt. I see nothing wrong with any of these methods and I actually intend to use some on my future children.

    I believe and hope that he has learnt his lesson. If not, he will be stuffing your retirement fund for a long time to come and not enjoying it.

  • Baxter S Keith

    Beautiful. Turning a negative into a positive for the family, showing your son that actions have consequences, and windfalls lead to savings.

    That’s some great stuff.

  • Dave Hilton

    I seriously snorted some of my tea when I read the “old lady hair dye fund” statement!

  • CommonCents

    I love it!!! What a great way to deal with the issue!!! I don’t have kids but trust me if I did I would have done the exact same thing!!!

  • Insomniac Lab Rat

    The part about wearing capris and pink shirts just cracked me up!

    Seriously, though, I think what you did was just fine. As pretty much every one else has said, following through with punishments is so important. I hope everything gets easier for you guys!

  • Michelle

    Oh my god, you’re my HERO!!! I have a child with similar issues and it’s amazing what he tries to get away with. You’re not alone! Unfortunately, my son fails to see the forest from the trees and therefore would be sleeping in a completely empty room if I took something away from him every time he lied. I’m running out of ideas.

  • Onecentatatime

    When we grew up we were beaten left and right by our parents. In India it was not this much strict. What happened ultimately? We both brothers are well established and we respect parents and still obey their words.

  • judy

    I think you are doing a great thing!!! Alot of people say I am hard on my kids also but guess what..they don’t have to live with them and I do. I to DESPISE lies. My youngest lost her laptop, phone, and all her makeup last time she did it and had to earn them all back. Keep on doing what you are doing and dont let your mom buy him a new one!


  • Money Infant

    Sometimes tough love is the only way to go. I know because I was a little shit when I was a teen. Love ya mom!

    • Marci


  • Tie the Money Knot

    Watch the grades skyrocket now…:)

    Sometimes being a parent isn’t easy, and it can be tough to be tough - so to speak. But, honesty and academics come before video games, no doubt about it. If the latter can serve as a motivator, that can be a good way to build positive habits.

  • Vanessa

    I really, really love this post! No, I don’t have childen, whatever — I still love parenting stories and I soak it all up like a sponge so that I can “borrow” people’s ideas in the future.

    What was your son’s reaction to this?

  • Bethy @ Credit Karma

    Wow! This was a pleasure to read, and I’m sure Jayden will have learned his lesson. Plus, kudos to him for reading a book!

  • LBC Teacher

    LOVE it. To make you feel better, yesterday one of my students told his mom that I made him wait for two hours to fill out his daily behavior log and that’s why he wasn’t home until 6:00. Obviously, false. He didn’t even give me his behavior log yesterday. She saw right through it.

    I wish all parents took school and lying as seriously as you do. I know he has struggles with homework and school, but you’re absolutely right that lying about it is unacceptable. In fact, I’m going to post this to FB and I’m sure all my teacher friends will worship you.