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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

These Kids Learn The Financial Ropes Now So They Don’t Fall Later

The importance of a steady job and careful budgeting is something a lot of people discover as adults. And that discovery is often made after financial disaster strikes.

That’s not the tune playing in the Dory household. KERA's series One Crisis Away spotlights the one in three North Texans who don’t have enough money in the bank to survive 90 days after a financial disruption.

J.C. and Schnique Dory are raising her two kids to respect money now so they don’t get into trouble later. The message seems to be sticking.

In the Dory family, if you have your eye on something to buy, you better have a way to finance it.

Eleven year-old Schnthia usually spends her money on lotions and potions from Bath and Body Works. Big brother Jaelyn would rather save and save until he can pull the trigger on a big purchase.

That’s one of the major rules Schnthia and Jaelyn live by. Whether it’s a bottle of foot scrub, a movie ticket or a big-time gadget, if it’s a “want,” it’s up to them to pay for it.

"I watch what I spend"

Jaelyn, who's 13, says most of his friends live very differently.

“Their parents just give them money and they just go spend it," he said. "And, with me, I have my own money that I have to spend, so I watch what I spend. Unlike them, since it’s just their parents’ money and they gave it to them, they just blow it.”

Jaelyn and Schnthia say their mom has always been up front with them about their money situation. Their family isn’t dangling over the financial edge, but they keep their spending lean to pay off credit card debt.

In fact, when both kids were a little younger, their mom handed over her monthly salary, their expenses and told them to make a budget.

“We’d have to look at her paycheck and then say, well we need to go to the grocery store, so let’s take out this much money,” Schnthia said. “And it was just about all the things that we needed, not really wanted, like paying bills, grocery shopping, clothes.”

"Being a young responsible adult"

Another principle they’ve been raised to believe? Get a job you can count on.

Jaelyn said: “If you make a budget and you have everything set for each day of the month and you don’t get your paycheck, you have nothing to fall back on but savings. And if that’s all you have, it’s probably not enough.”

These kids take a lot of responsibility around the house, too. One the day we visited, Jaelyn was up and down the stairs tackling laundry and Schnthia was defrosting chicken with one hand and drying dishes with the other.

When she talks about chores, Schnthia doesn’t sound like an average 11-year-old.

“I think that it’s me being a young responsible adult,” she says. “Because if I didn’t learn all the cleaning and all the chores and the discipline now, when I grow up and my mom’s not there to walk me through every step, I’d be lost.”

But these two say their parents have gone to great lengths to make sure they don’t get lost. And when the time comes for Jaelyn and Schnthia to set off on their own, they’ve got a pretty good roadmap already.