Financial Lessons We Learned Growing Up that Need to Be Taught Today

financial lessons

I really do love my kids; I promise. It’s just that sometimes they make me want to rip my hair out with my bare hands and run screaming into traffic. There are four of them, one of me, and one of my husband. Except that he gets to go to his office from 7 am to 5 pm every single day while my office is in our house and that’s were all four of our little ones are now that it’s summer vacation. They’re sweet, really; they are. However, now that it’s summer vacation, I’m spending a lot more time with my school-age kids than ever before, and I’m learning a few things about them that I might not love so much.

For example, my darling five-year-old daughter, my most difficult child, recently decided she would create a work of art on her white bed. Her white bunk bed. Her $1,500 bunk bed. We were able to clean most of it, but you can still see the faint lines of her beautiful art work even with the magic that is a magic eraser. I could really go back and start that day over. The problem was pretty easily remedied, but her cavalier attitude about the entire thing really bothered me. When I asked her what she was thinking she explained that she was out of paper, and that she no longer likes her bed anymore.

She wants a new bed. She wants ‘one’ bed instead of a bunk bed since she has no one to share her bunk with, and she wants a princess bed. So she thought she might just color on hers so we’d buy her a new one since we don’t like messy things. Basically, she figured that if she messed it up, we’d just buy her a new one. That bothered me a lot. We buy nice items, and we care for them so that they last a long time. Her vision of that really bothered me, and it made me wonder if, perhaps, we are not teaching our children the correct values.

Did we mess up somewhere and teach our kids that we can just ‘buy a new one,’ when something isn’t working anymore? We certainly did not do that intentionally, but it’s also not the first time we’ve heard them assume that if it’s broken, we’ll just buy a new one. I began thinking of my parents and my grandparents and the simpler times in which they lived. I think that their idea of teaching us values was a bit better. Sure, we take care of our things, but when something does break or need replacement, we can have it here in two days thanks to Amazon – it’s no longer a big deal. I think that our convenient way of life, our attitude about the ease in which we can access anything is just too much for us these days. It worries me, but I think that we need to get back to a simpler way of life and teach our kids the lessons we learned from our own parents and grandparents growing up.

Be Grateful for What You Have

I remember once when I was in fourth grade and I was about 10-years-old. MTV was all the rage back then and spring break was hotter than ever. All I wanted in the world was to go to Daytona Beach (I mean, it’s only a few hours from us). Our parents took us to Disney World instead. I was furious. I pouted and I cried and I acted like a massive jerk. My mother turned around and said to me in the car that I need to be grateful that I get to go to Disney, because most people will never go there at all. Instead of being upset about what I didn’t have, she made me look at it from a different perspective. When I realized that most people don’t get to do things like that, it made it different for me.

Take Care of What You Have

When I was growing up, I was taught to take care of my thing. If I didn’t take care of my stuff, I didn’t have that stuff anymore. There was no breaking an item because I didn’t care for it and then replacing it. If I wasn’t responsible enough to have it, I wasn’t responsible even to have it. That’s a lesson our kids need to learn.

The Parents are the Boss

My parents were always the boss. I was shocked recently to hear a middle schooler tell her mother she was spending the night with a friend that night and she’d be home before dinner the next night. When I was growing up, I had to ask for things like that. My parents got the final say, and that was that. I never told them anything.

The Difference Between Wanting and Needing

I want new shoes, I don’t need new shoes. That’s my life motto as an adult. Growing up, I was taught the difference. I need to eat, I want new clothes. My kids don’t know the difference. For some reason, they think that everything is a need. “I need new shoes because this shade of pink doesn’t match my dress just right,” and “I need a new tablet because I forgot I left mine all the trampoline all night and it rained,” is what they love to say. We’re working on this one now.

If You Don’t Have Cash, Don’t Buy It

My mother always told me this growing up, and I’m trying so hard to instill the knowledge in my kids. If you cannot go to the bank and get the cash out of the ATM right this second, you cannot afford this item and therefore should not purchase it. It’s a great lesson in simplicity and debt that my parents instilled, and it’s one kids today need to learn.

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