The Struggle is Real
Don’t you love taking kids to the grocery store with you? Or any store, for that matter? my family will go without needed grocery items just because don’t have the energy or desire to drag kids through the store and tell them no to the Oreos and the cookies and the Trix Yogurt, etc., etc. But, as I was thinking about them and their endless desires for treats and toys, I realized that they didn’t understand why I had to tell them no so often, and why we can’t just buy everything we see and desire.
So, during family council one Sunday I pulled out the Monopoly money, and counted out a pile of ‘cash’ to show the kids how much money daddy gets paid every month. Their eyes grew wide and they exclaimed that that is SO much money and that we are rich (anything more than $50 = great wealth!). Then, we talked about our monthly expenses. My intent was to show them that we have a limited amount of income, and that it needs to be spent wisely so that we can pay for our obligations, be able to buy food and necessities, and have a little fun, too.
A side benefit of doing this exercise was that they learned a bit about our resources. They had no idea we had to pay for the electricity or water that we use. They had no idea that groceries cost so much. They had never heard of car insurance, and didn’t know much about health insurance. We also got to have a simple, but effective, discussion about debt. About what it is, what it does, why we don’t want it and how we are trying to get rid of it. This also led to a brief chat about taking care of our stuff, and also about how we are so blessed to have so much, when others have so little.
Since we did this little exercise, I have not been asked to buy anything extra at the store. Once in a while, they will ask “Is this on the list?” If the answer is No, they ask if we can put it on the shopping list for next trip and I usually try to find a way to say yes and work it in the budget (we’re talking small items like little treats or a bag of cookies. )
They also began to see how quickly ‘all of that money’ was used, and what little was left over. This helped me explain why daddy had to go to work everyday and how thankful we are for him and his hard work and willingness to do it for us. This also helped them understand why mommy does her ‘typing work’ (transcription) to help us earn a little extra to help the debt be paid off more quickly.
I didn’t realize how valuable this little lesson would be and the things we would learn together. I also didn’t understand how much they didn’t understand. I realized that they didn’t understand why I chose to tell them no so often, and why I would get frustrated with all the asking. Visually showing them the cash inflows and outflows has helped them gain an understanding and helped me gain new patience and willingness to do more teaching instead of reprimanding.
This simple exercise helped my kids see how we can work together to support each other (taking care of the things we have, not whining when Mommy or Daddy says no, telling Daddy thank you for working so hard for us, being grateful for all of our blessings….). Maybe it will work at your house, too!
Sit down with your kids and discuss your budget. Do it in a positive and educational way. Share your financial goals. Maybe pull out the Monopoly money and show them the budget works. Help them to see how they can contribute to the ‘family economy’ by showing gratitude, serving each other, being patient, etc. Then, share in the comments how the discussion went!