Recently, I wrote about preparing our baby birds for leaving the nest and mentioned my husband and I struggled to teach our baby birds about finances. We tried. Some learned better than others. It looks different for each one.
I also mentioned all three of our girls are productive members of society. Keep that in mind as you read the following story, please. And look for the Truth at the end.
I’ve never met the Jones’ we are striving to keep up with and if I do, I might just trip them – or throat punch them. One of my daughters loved to keep up with the Jones’. When she was about 13 or 14 years old we were gathering all the things she would need for a week at summer church camp. She informed me she needed new Converse tennis shoes for camp. The conversation went something like this.
“Mom, I need new Converse shoes for camp.”
“No, you do not. You can wear the ones you have.”
“But Miss ‘Youth Leader’ got some new ones.”
“Miss ‘Youth Leader’ has a source of income. You do not. And I do not have $40 to spend on new Converse shoes for camp.”
“But mine are old.”
“Perfect for camp.”
I thought the fight was over because she turned and walked away.
Oh, naïve one!
A few minutes later I walked into Converse Desiring Daughter’s bedroom to ask about something we needed to pack and found her sitting in the middle of her room with a pile of change heaped between her stretched out legs. She was counting the pennies, dimes and nickels. I turned around and walked away.
A few minutes later I heard her on the phone with my sister. Converse Desiring Daughter was selling the $10 worth of McDonalds gift cards Santa left in her stocking.
“Since your son eats French Fries almost every day, you know you’re going to spend $10 at McDonalds. Will you buy my gift cards? Thanks!” And she hung up the phone.
A few minutes later she found me in my bedroom and asked me how much money I planned to give her to buy food at the Astros Baseball game the youth group was attending that afternoon. I told her the amount.
“Thanks! Can you give it to me now?”
A few minutes later I walked into the kitchen and Converse Desiring Daughter was wrapping a can of soda up in foil and bagging up snacks from the pantry. She put them in her purse backpack then bounded up the stairs.
A few minutes later, she came back down the stairs and handed me a jar of change and some wadded up dollar bills.
Within an hour, Converse Desiring Daughter had come up with enough money for the shoes she wanted.
I kid you not!
I was a tad bit exasperated and a whole lot of proud. She knew what she wanted and she figured out a way to obtain it. She has continued to function in the same manner into adulthood. Much like her Mom (me), a “no” really isn’t a “no.” (Right, Dad?)
Teaching your kids about finances is tough – especially as a couple. My husband and I grew up with different financial strategies so we haven’t always agreed on the best way to teach our kids. He wants to be an open book with finances. My enneagram 3 comes out and I want to make it all look pretty – even when it is really ugly.
Now that my girls are adults and we have discussions about finances, I realize maybe I protected them too much. They knew we flew to visit my parents in Idaho but they didn’t know I was bidding on Priceline back in the day when you said what you were willing to pay and hoped there was a flight and would go at whatever evil time of the day the low fair dictated. It was always the 6am flight. Not fun with babies, toddlers or preteens. Or I sold our Labrador pups and used that money. There was one Christmas when my hubby pointed out I no longer spoke in dollars – only Labradors. I would tell him things like, “We can fly to my parent’s for Christmas for 4.5 pups.” Or “I think I can buy all of the gifts with 3 pups.”
My girls ate the food but didn’t know I bought it at the big box stores to get the lowest price and repackaged it. We bought generic or store brand foods – except for ketchup and peanut butter. Never buy generic ketchup or peanut butter.
We went to Disney but only because I got a good deal for agreeing to listen to a time-share spiel. And we drove. And on the way there, we stayed at a cheap hotel with wet sheets and carpet. We had to stay because I got some “deal” and had prepaid. We didn’t have the money to change hotels.
I shopped the sales racks and welcomed the hand-me-downs. And said “no” to unnecessary tennis shoes for camp.
Finances are an emotionally charged topic in my family. We didn’t always do things right and I would do things differently if I had a do over. But since I don’t, maybe I can help you.
Here are my top three tips:
1 – Tithe 10% – It’s Biblical. And it’s not just in the Old Testament. A LOT of people have written a LOT about it so do your research. I have seen the fruits of tithing in our family. Do it.
A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees,
belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. Leviticus 27:30
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops; Proverbs 3:9
2 – Live Debt Free – We haven’t always done that well but we have always strived for a debt free life. Dave Ramsey is the debt-free living guru so check him out.
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower
is the slave of the lender. Proverbs 22:7
3 – Don’t’ Try To Keep Up With the Jones’ – They will win EVERY time. They are mean and apparently have an unlimited source of money. Don’t keep up with them – or the Kardashians, movie stars or professional athletes.
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30
Comparison is the thief of joy – Theodore Roosevelt
Comparison is the thief of contentment – Shelly D Templin
What is your biggest financial pitfall? Financial success? What are your tips for teaching children to be financially savvy? Comment and let us know.