Recently, I noticed my daughter was not acting like herself. I asked her a few times what was bothering her and of course being a teenager she said “nothing.” Well, after a few days of this she finally told us what was going on. Apparently, during a conversation with a group of her friends at school everyone was discussing their plans for summer vacation. When my daughter was asked about her plans she stated she would be working as many hours as possible. When questioned as to why all the work she replied that she has to pay for her cell phone, her car insurance, gas for her car and then save as much money as possible to carry her through the school year when she doesn’t work as much. The problem occurred when one girl in the group questioned “why don’t your parents pay for all that? Mine do.” My daughter said, “Our family is big and we can’t afford to pay for everything.” Lastly the girl replied, “If your parents can’t afford it, then why did they have so many kids?” This really bothered me.
Many times I have asked myself the same thing, “Were we wrong to have a large family because we’re not able to give them all the things they desire?” The answer every time is a resounding “NO!” We love our children. We can give them everything they want: cars, video game systems, exotic vacations, designer clothes and private educations. However, the price for all of that is not just monetary (though we would be in huge debt.) The price for that would be losing everything we value. Our philosophy is to provide our children with a great foundation of life long values. Love of family, faith, moral convictions and monetary responsibility are just a few. If we bought our kids everything they wanted or just tried to “keep up with the Jones,” we wouldn’t be teaching our children the values of accomplishment and self-worth. My daughter takes pride in the fact that she pays her own bills. She has a sense of accomplishment and sometimes, yes, she gets frustrated because she can’t always do or get what she wants. But in time, she usually gets what she wants with a deeper appreciation because of all the effort she put into achieving her goal. For big stuff, we will usually meet her half way. She saves half and we put in the rest. In doing this we get the satisfaction of being able to help our daughter and she knows she’s done her part as well.
Being in the Savings Challenge has opened the door to many discussions about money, goals and values with people we wouldn’t normally discuss these things with. People that have seen our commercial, co-workers and neighbors, have all shared their tools, tips, opinions, and even, their pitfalls. It’s difficult living within your means. It doesn’t matter how large or small your family is. There will always be times when we wish it was easier financially. We all should do our best whatever our values or incomes are. I’m not saying our way is the only way, or the right way. But, it’s our way.
In what ways do you teach children important financial values?
This is an entry from the 2009 Connex Savings Challenge Blog, a place where you can keep up with the Savings Challenge families and they can share great financial tips, ways they are saving and budgeting and much more! For more blog entries and information on the Connex Savings Challenge, visit http://www.connexcu.org.