Feb 16, 2010

Children, Money, and the Family Budget part I

If I had a magic money tree in my back yard, life would be so different.

I don't know that it would make us happier, necessarily (except we could stop worrying about how much our homeowner's insurance went up this year, or what scholarships our child might receive) but it would change the nature of our discussions.

Child: Mom, I need a calculator for math.
Parent: Borrow your sister's calculator - she doesn't have a math class this term.
Child: Why do I have to go to bed so early?
Parent: So you stay healthy. And take a vitamin C - we can't afford a visit to the doctor if you get sick.
Child: Stop here for a minute so I can buy a Coke.
Parent: If you have money to buy Cokes, why don't you replace the school uniform shirt that you can't find?

This is nit-picky stuff about the family budget. Like all parents, we're doing the best we can. If we had that magic money tree, each child would have a calculator, doctor's visits would be proactive rather than reactive, and the girl could have more than two (now down to one) shirts. On the other hand, buying two calculators is rather wasteful, if only one is needed. Staying healthy really is a wiser course of action. Learning to be responsible for your uniform is a good lesson, too.

So, by not having all the money in the world, my children are learning to be responsible and make wise decisions with what we do have. They're learning to take charge of their health, live within their means, and that one needn't own everything to be happy.

They're learning to do they best they can with what they have.

That's something we all should learn.

What is your financial condition teaching your children today?

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