Another parenting tip…

Most of us have really screwed up attitudes toward money. Money is not good or evil, it’s a neutral tool (so is a gun, a screwdriver, and the spikes environmentalists put into trees). There is no shortage of money, no matter what a Keynesian economist tells you. Just because Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have billions does not mean that poor people are without billions because of them (in fact, poverty stricken people will have tons because of them). The economy is not a pie, with limited supply, new inventions do not take money from existing ones, if you insist on believing in the pie; new things to spend money on make the pie bigger. So much for the economy part of the lesson…
The worst thing we can do to a child is to tell them that “we can’t afford that…” First off it is a lie. You can always afford something, it all comes down to the sacrifice you’re willing to put up with. I used to get really irritated by the welfare mother who rented from us. She never had rent money but she could afford cable TV, Dominos or Pizza Hut for dinner every night, and laser tag equipment. Not to mention, I didn’t have to heat my apartment all winter, the amount of heat she had going in her place, kept mine warm although the floor was almost too hot to walk on barefoot. Needless to say, her choice of purchases was poor. She always complained about how she didn’t have any money for clothes for the kids or for the rent. She and many women who came to Mary Kay parties I held. I learned that women whose kids had no clothes would still buy makeup for themselves and my stuff cost less than the department store stuff, so actually, I was saving her money. People will always find a way to afford the things they really want.
True, there are some thing’s that are currently out of my price range (Shelby’s new Cobra anyone?) But, it’s possible that if I was to sacrifice silk, fabric and canvas, eating out and Netflix plus found a better paying job, I could get it. I can afford it; I just don’t have the money right now.
In order to create a healthy attitude toward money in children instead of creating an image of scarcity, give them a goal or a reason. “I’m sorry, buying bubble gum instead of fresh veggies is just a poor choice right now.” “Yes, it would be great to get that right now, but you need to earn the money for it first, let’s think of ways for you to earn money.”
I have to admit that I fell down in teaching my kids the truth about money. I realized this when my youngest told me that we could buy the toys that he wanted because, I had a credit card. I was able to answer that request with, “Honey, credit cards are not free money. Let’s go home and I’ll explain it to you.” See, I still didn’t say, we can’t afford it.

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2 Comments

  1. Onilyn

     /  July 9, 2006

    And how do you explain credit cards to a kid? Mine used that one on me very recently.

    Reply
  2. Stasha

     /  July 9, 2006

    Credit cards are borrowing money. If we buy something on a credit card we have to pay not just the amount of what we bought but we have to pay a fee for using the bank’s money. I leave out the part about there is no fee if you pay it off every month.

    Reply

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