Oh how I long for the days when “Electronics Day” wasn’t a thing! My daughter has been begging us for a new toy to bring in to school for Electronics Day. It’s an hour of free time where students can play on their electronics. And, it’s a big deal to show off who has the “newest, latest or bestest” toy.
I get it. Clothes and new hairstyles were the thing when I was in school. Or if I remember my Catholic school days, it was about who had the latest pair of sneakers or the most fashion forward jackets.
But, we started talking about money in our house early. Wayyyyy before this conversation about electronics day.
Ya’ll did you get it? That’s the tip! Start talking about money BEFORE it comes up. Share your decision making processes openly and you’ll make saying “no” easier.
While I do feel the pressure, I’m also clear that we are balancing short and long term family goals. College ain’t free y’a..! Even if your child receives a grant, the family still has to pay for travel, supplies and other incidentals that arise. So it’s an ongoing process to put money away in savings.
It’s never too early to start this conversation. And while I don’t profess to be perfect, I thought it might be helpful to share two take-aways:
Make it an Ongoing Discussion
In 2017, Time wrote an article that estimates it costs approximately $233,610 to raise a child. I think that they are lying. It probably costs 2x that amount but no one wants to admit it.
Don’t wait until they are grown to involve them in real conversations about money. Talk through your daily decision making. So they start to understand the realities of this conversation.
For example, when I’m in the supermarket, I try to walk through the decisions I make about purchases. Even when we are busy and I wish she would stop asking so many questions!!! Lol. If I’m buying more generics one week and less “wants”, we have a discussion about the unexpected expenses. Or if we are blessed with some extra business or new contracts, I will share that we can splurge a bit in the “wants” aisle.
This is especially important if the family is doing long term savings. You know, when you need money for the holidays or for something longer term? Moments where the kids can’t see the benefits immediately??
Hopefully, it plants the seeds early. If she regularly experiences the “needs vs. wants” conversation, she might realize that it’s not bad to hear no. It’s normal.
Include Them in the Decision Making Process So They Understand ‘No.’
Whenever we have the “one more birthday party this month” scenario, I involve my daughter in the gift buying process. Sure, I could take over and pick stores that will allow my dollar to stretch. But it robs her of learning how it’s done and the confidence that comes with making these decisions.
So I tell her upfront what the budget is. We talk through ideas and how she wants to spend the money. And she has shocked me. Recently she came up with a pretty creative idea for one of her classmates. It didn’t require Mommy to stress out AND made HER friend happy in the process. Win-win.
Mind you, it’s not always perfect. But I do enjoy her realization and “ahas” as we go through the experiences.
So I hope this article gives you some insights into how to introduce this conversation. Feel free to share more ideas via the comments and I’ll include them in future blog posts. There is no doubt that regular conversations will help whenever you need to set limits!