As my children enter into adulthood, I really want them to learn, respect, and understand the value of money. The reality is, I couldn’t teach them what I didn’t know. Children learn their first lessons at home. When children witness mom or dad “balling out of control,” what do you think they are going to do? They will mimic that behavior, in some cases.
Learn As You Go
There is no parenting blueprint but there are budgeting books! As a single parent, I’ve always told myself that my children will live as though there are two parents in the household. That was not realistic because there was only one parent in the household. Therefore, I had allowed them to participate in several activities that were very costly. They’ve participated in music programs because every child is going to be a star right? They’ve gone on expensive trips because other people’s children went on trips and I wanted to make them happy. They’ve participated in every sporting activity every time the season changed. To cover these expenses, I had positioned myself to earn more money but I had never positioned myself to spend less. Every decision was an emotional decision. It’s called good parenting right? We want our children to experience everything that we were not privy to. The truth is, it’s not necessary. I’ve learned that as my children had gotten older, spending time with them was more important than making sure they had a busy schedule. I could have saved a lot of money had I had that mindset back then.
Budget Less and Clueless
I know people who’ve skipped on paying bills to cover holiday expenses to make their children happy for that one day. I’ve seen people being evicted because they had allowed the holidays to take over their bank accounts. There was no such thing as a holiday budget. It was called limitless and mindless spending. Did they need the latest gadgets? Even though they didn’t ask for it? I really wanted them to have what other children had and what I didn’t have. My parents wanted the same things and I reciprocated that behavior. Some of you may not think that you are doing this, but we all do at some point during our children’s lives. As Patricia Washington states in her book titled Real Money Answers For Every Woman, “Can you really continue to buy your children everything under the sun and expect them to respect money?”
Food For Thought
The holiday season is quickly approaching. Think of some things you can do differently this year. For starters, I hope you have a budget and a list. Do not exceed that budget and do not buy anything that is not on that list. Think of some things that you can do as a family. For the past four years, my family and I had exchanged gifts by picking one name out of a hat. This eliminates having to buy gifts for everyone in the family.
We also eat dinner together. To save money on food, a fellow blogger, Emily Rupe Carson, suggested that parents should consider shopping in bulk. She also stated, “If a bulk store isn’t an option for you, I would highly recommend shopping at Walmart instead of your local grocery store. Walmart’s prices are consistently better and before we joined Costco, I was able to save up to $25.00 a week shopping at Walmart in comparison to our local grocery store and that was without using coupons.” She offers more parenting tips on her blog, https://movingthroughmomhood.com/.
Often times, we would play board games or watch movies together to keep ourselves entertained. We would also take this opportunity to catch up on details of each other’s lives. My children and I have also volunteered at a shelter once and we’ve volunteered at a nursing home on several occasions. Not only is this a learning experience, it’s a rewarding experience. You bring joy to other people.
I recently listened to a podcast episode called “Martinis and Your Money” with host Shannon McLay as she interviewed Sarah Bettencourt, the founder of the Blonde Spot. Ms. McLay is a single parent who focused more on balancing work and single motherhood, financially taking care of her child’s needs, and spending time with him. It wasn’t about buying him the latest iPhone.
We love our children. I think they benefit more from experiences and spending time with us rather than buying them things. It’s ok to say “no”. “No” is a complete sentence. The money that was spent on activities could have been set aside for college or some other future endeavor. The money could have been invested and earning interest as we speak. Moving forward, my primary goal is to teach them how to save, invest, and live a minimalist lifestyle. I am acting as their financial advisor, life coach, and mentor. I am helping them plan for their future. Reader, does your child have a savings account? Do you have money set aside for their future? Are you teaching them the value of money?