As I was scouring the internet this week reading other financial blogs, I was excited to come across This One by our friends at How To Stuff Your Pig. It’s all about financial gift giving for children. I was amazed that the very first suggestion is the EXACT one we will be doing for Mini Monster this holiday season. This got me to thinking. I was a single parent for many years and I have always worked very hard to teach Mini the value of a dollar. She knows that, second to love, money makes the world go ’round.
Teachings To Young Grasshopper
Ever since Mini was old enough to sit up, I’ve been teaching her about money. For the first 5 years of her life, I was a single parent. And boy was I ever determined to buck the “single mom” stigma (sadly and surprising, it still exists). I accomplished this through various avenues. For one, I always made sure our home was clean and nice. Because I have a career with a higher than average salary, I was able to move us out of our apartment one week before she turned 1 year old, and into a new (small) home that I purchased (alone) in the good school district (future planning). I also made sure it had a nice big yard. It still does! I have always kept our home nicely furnished and spic-n-span clean. I also made sure to take advantage of my employer-sponsored education program. This meant earning my master’s degree in my field (biology) completely free of charge. My goal was to earn that degree before Mini entered kindergarten. Mission Accomplished. I had 2 months to spare :P
But more than that, I also taught Mini how the world works, and the value of a dollar each. and. every. single. day. I had her making deposits at our local bank before she was even tall enough to see the teller. When we stopped to pump gas, she knew we needed money. When we bought groceries, she knew we needed money. When she took a bath or turned on a light, she knew we needed money. Mini knows why I go to work. She has known since she has been able to understand. A conversation with one of my co-workers a few weeks ago floored me. She told me that her daughter (5 years old) has no idea why her and her husband go to work every day. Are you kidding me? Is this really what’s going on out there? This is why most Americans are not doing so well with their finances. Mini knows that filling her tub up to the brim with warm, toasty water, means more money to pay the water bill and less money to spend on the fun stuff. Yep, good, bad, or indifferent, this has been drilled into her head since before she could fully understand me. I have also taught her how to stain a fence, how to clean gutters, how to paint, and, well, you get the idea. I want her to be the kinda girl who can get sh$t done on her own fruition. Okay, enough girl-power speak. After all, I’m married now :) But, those single parent days still resonate with me. The funny thing is, I look back at them now with nostalgia. It truly was a great (crazy) time. It taught me a lot, and, in turn, it taught Mini a lot.
Why you ask? Why have I been so diligent about drilling this into Mini’s head since she was born? Likely because of my upbringing. My mother, even though she is NOT good with saving/investing, taught me growing up, how important it is to have your own money, and to have retirement accounts, and to never depend on someone else for those things. I think she taught me this because she didn’t have those things. It stuck.
Teachings From Young Grasshopper
A few things that tend to bring tears to my eyes after years spent teaching Mini the value of a dollar:
- Why don’t we just clean the carpet instead of buying a new one?
- I don’t want to go anywhere; I want to play with Mary (A Mantis)
- “Mommy, play with me!” – They really only want our time.
- Why don’t we eat at home and save our money?
This holiday season, we will be opening a custodial investment account for Mini. We plan to print up a certificate with fun pics of some of the companies she will “own” and give it to her to open (along with actual toys) on Christmas morning. I would love to think that Mini’s current financial trajectory will continue into adulthood. But we never know how her hormones will treat her in adolescence and young adulthood. Oh, the horror! *Nail Biting* Her current line of thinking is to become a veterinarian and to own rental properties. It makes me want to cry with joy.
That leaves us with one question: What kind of financial lessons and gifts do you give your children?
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