The Sterlings (Part 3): The Circle of (Financial) Wisdom


Catch-up on The Sterling’s story in Part 1 and Part 2 of their financial journey.


Amy and Travis Sterling live a comfortable life with their two children, Sophie and Sean. Sure, some months their savings goals hadn’t been met, but the couple was secure in their careers and solidly middle-class incomes.

But with Sophie and Sean creeping up on college age, the Sterlings came face to face with the realization that maybe they’d spend a few too many of their prime savings years, well, spending!

You know what they say: admitting is the first step. The couple has started working hard to identify the seemingly-harmless spending habits that had taken their toll over time. With a renewed understanding of their priorities, Amy has started creating a solid financial plan for her family. All that’s left is making sure everyone is on board with their new financial perspective.


“You sure she’s ready for this?” Travis asked Amy. “I can’t tell if it’s that they’re getting older so fast, or it’s just the concept of handing my sixteen year old a credit card, but this is freaking me out!”

Amy gave her husband a reassuring smile. “For the umpteenth time, I’m sure. An appreciation for good financial habits is like good manners—they’re learned by watching. And so far, all Sophie and Sean have seen us do is spend! I think, now that we’re putting all this effort into sticking to our budget, it’s a great time to introduce Sophie to the idea of proper money management.”

“And it’ll have a limit, right?”

“What will have a limit?” Sophie said as she peeked her head around the corner. “Sorry, I heard my name. Are you guys giving me a curfew or something? Because you promised I could-.”

“Nope! It’s actually something your royal highness will be excited about. But it comes with responsibilities, so why don’t you grab a plate and we’ll tell you,” Amy said.

Travis started, “Sophie, you know lately your mom and I have spent a lot of time looking at our financial future.” Her small groan at hearing the word financial wasn’t filling Travis with confidence, but he continued on with an encouraging look from Amy. “Your mom, especially, looked at our spending and she’s brought something to my attention.”

“We realized our own financial habits might’ve taught you and Sean the wrong way to go about money management,” Amy said. “Now, your brother is too young, but we think it might be time to give you some financial responsibility.

“Responsibility? I thought you said this was something I’d be excited about,” Sophie protested. “I already have a summer job starting after school ends!”

“Exactly,” Amy interjected, “and since you’ll be earning some pocket money, your dad and I would like to allow you to have a credit card.”

“No kidding! Wow, that’s awesome!”

“BUT, there are some restrictions. Literally,” Travis said, poking fun at Sophie’s overuse of the word. “First, however much you want your spending limit to be, you have to fork over up front.”

“Wait,” Sophie asked, “isn’t the point of a credit card that I get to pay off stuff after?”

Amy shook her head. “That’s just the mindset we’re trying to change. The most important lesson in building good financial habits is not spending money you don’t have.

“Lots of kids get into trouble once they start receiving credit card offers at eighteen, simply because they don’t understand how much easier is is to spend than to earn. We’re trusting you because we think you’re mature enough to learn about responsible spending sooner, in hopes that it will lead to good financial habits as you get older.”

“Now, you’re still too young to have your own card, so we’re going to add you to our account with the understanding that you’ll follow what we’ve outlined here,” Travis said, as he pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to Sophie.

“Okay, but what’s this?”





Find out what Travis pulled out of his pocket and how it changed Sophie’s approach to credit cards. Read about it in this book.