Take Care Of Your Money!
I hung up the phone and yelled up the stairs to my son, â€œHey, did you forget your $20 at the neighbors?â€
Our next door neighbors had been gone for a week and had enlisted my son to feed their cat and fish each day. He had diligently performed the job, for which he was given a crisp twenty dollar bill when we were at their house for New Year’s Eve. Apparently he had left it sitting on an end table.
â€œOh, yeah, probably,â€ I heard him mumble from inside his room where he was holed up as usual playing video games.
I stood at the bottom of the stairs for a minute expecting him to come bouncing out of his room to head over to the neighbors to get his hard earned money, but it didn’t happen. I decided that if he didn’t care about his $20, I didn’t either.
But the fact that he didn’t take care of his money bugged me, all night.
It made me think about how I as a grown up don’t always take care of my money either:
- Budget Slacking : My wife and I have weekly budget discussions, but sometimes we get complacent or even lazy and just don’t do it. When we finally sit down and put our finances back in order we always find we had spent more than we should have.
- Emergency Fund: It’s supposed to be for emergencies only, but sometimes we justify using for other things like new clothes, or a dinner out with friends when our normal weekly budget isn’t sufficient.
- Retirement Planning: I know I should meet with someone periodically to make sure we have well defined goals for retirement, and ensure we’re contributing enough to our funds to meet those goals. But retirement seems so far away, and we’re likely to be told that we need to contribute more. Which would mean we’d have less to spend now. We’re sacrificing our long term financial success for short term comfort.
I realize that as an adult I don’t take the best care of money all the time either. But I want to ingrain into my son a healthy understanding of the value of his hard earned money so he will grow into a financially responsible adult. The fact that he didn’t care that he left his money at the neighbors and did not immediately correct the situation tells me that I still have some work to do.
The next day, I asked him if he had a plan to get his $20. He just shrugged his shoulders. I had reached my threshold of annoyance and walked next door to retrieve his money. I placed the money on his desk next to him, and launched into a cool, collected, but firm monolog regarding being responsible and valuing money.
â€œThanks,â€ was his response. I hope the message got through.
How would you emphasize the importance of taking care of money to your children? Do you take care of YOUR money?
Brought to you courtesy of Brock
Brock is a software engineer by day and personal finance blogger at night. He is a fitness junkie and enjoys grilling and smoking meat. Married with two children, Brock strives to improve his skills as a husband and father, and is always on the lookout to stretch his family’s budget as far as he can.
I have to say that I wouldn’t have retrieved the money for him! If he couldn’t be bothered to go get it, so be it. If he never bothered to go get it, I would also have to make sure I didn’t give him any money for something that he should be paying for with his own money.
Yeah, I would agree that I wouldn’t have gone to get the money myself, but I likely would have forced him to do it. A lecture helps sometimes, but forced action also works. This is something that has to be continually practiced as well.
I also find it interesting that we find fault in what others do that is similar to our own faults. For instance my husband, James, hates some spending habits of mine, but I’m equally as frustrated when I see ways that I feel he is wasting money after trying to hard to save.
Bryce @ Save and Conquer says
I would have retrieved his money from the neighbor, stuck it in the kid’s bank account, and then told him about it. We made a deal with our son that we would pay him an allowance as long as he did some chores, and that he put half of it into the bank. He puts a lot of gift money in the bank as well. He has used his savings to buy some big items, like a Lego MindStorms robotics kit for over $200. He has over $1000 currently in his account. He recently told me he wants to invest half of it in an index fund. I couldn’t be more proud.
When I was a kid I used to do this all the time with my babysitting money, but it wasn’t because I was being lazy or because I didn’t want the money, it was because I felt awkward showing up at their house to collect.
@Barb – I thought a lot about not getting the money, but I didn’t want it to be forgotten either. Other thoughts I had were calling the neighbors and telling them to keep it safe for him until he finally remembered, OR retrieving it and keeping it until he asked for it. Looking back, I wish I would have taken one of those choices….the lesson would have made more of an impact. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts, Barb!
@Miel – making him get off his chair and go get it would have been another option….and would have reinforced “getting things done” as soon as possible. Food for thought for the next time (hopefully there isn’t one??)! Thanks for stopping by!
@Bryce – Great suggestion….I’ve got several great ideas here…all of which, in my opinion, would have been better than what I did. I really like the idea of having it safe and sound in his bank account, even if he never ever thought of it again. Thanks for your thoughts!
@surburbanfinance – It’s sort of strange that they wouldn’t have paid you at the end of each babysitting job – I hope they weren’t taking advantage of you! I can see why that would be awkward if you had to ask for the money, though. Thanks for your comment!