FPU: Jen’s Little Secret….


We all have our struggles, it is true.   While I might be great at budgeting money and living a frugal lifestyle,  my secret is that I am not good at denying my children ANYTHING!!  I struggle daily on what my heart and my head tell me.  My heart tells me that my boys are my life and I would do and give them anything!  My head tells me that I have to stop doing this and have my son earn his money to buy what he wants.  How else is he ever going to know how to do this as an adult??  As my parents might have said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”


While I am not extravagant in what I give my child, I know I am missing the mark on utilizing these teaching opportunities.  And we all know I am still going to give him things, but maybe a little less   I will share with you some examples from the last week and see if you can relate.   


1.  It is starting to warm up in MN and we hear the icecream truck coming down the street.  Don’t ask me why, but this guy *knows to park in front of our house!   Tommy goes running to his “Spend” envelope and finds he only has 1 dollar.   He asks me for a dollar and of course I hand one over to him.   Hubby reminds me about how our son needs to do his chores and he would have plenty of money for the ice cream truck.   


2.  I am dropping off my son at school and the school book fair is set up.  Our little guy informs me that his class gets to go shopping today and he needs some money.   I did think twice about it this time….but in the end, I couldn’t say no.   I gave Tommy some of my fun money, which is where a majority of my fun money goes.  I am always spending it on the kids or some other gift, etc.


3.  Hubby and I are packing our son to go to an overnight trip with his school to an environmental camp.   The packing list says to bring some money for the camp store and a treat on the way home.  Hubby, because he is MUCH better than I am at this, asks our son if he has any money in his spend envelope.  Well, the answer is “no” of course.   I of course plead my son’s case, he can’t be the only child without some funds on the trip.  Hubby opens his wallet and give our boy $10 from his own fun money, because as terrible as I am at giving my sons anything they want…..my hubby is that way with me….he loves me.


As I am typing up these examples, I think to myself what harm would have been done to Tommy if I had said “No”??   No to ice cream truck….he would have had a bowl of the ice cream from in our freezer.  No to the book fair….he would have read his library book or one on his shelf from previous book fairs.   No to spending money for the trip…..he would have still had a great time and made wonderful memories with his class and learned that doing his chores would have given him money to spend, but memories and fun don’t need to cost anything.


Dave Ramsey says that personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior and for me this problem is 90% psychological.   I grew up the youngest of 5 children and wasn’t the richest kid in school.  I would cringe when the teachers would ask, what did you get for Christmas and my classmates would have this long list and I would say my one thing.  While my hubby and I budget for Christmas, you can bet my children get more than one present.  I just grew up knowing that my family didn’t have the things others did.  No trip to Disney world but we always went on a family vacation every summer. My parents seemed content and didn’t seem to worry about the need to keep up with the “Jones”.


Looking back at that as an adult, I have a totally different take on it.  While the embarrassment stayed with me, I learned some very valuable lessons from my parents.   My parents didn’t have a extravagant home, but they never refinanced and owned their home while I was at home.  I remember my parents making the last payment on the house after the man they had a contract for deed with passed away.  At Christmas, while I might not have had numerous gifts, the one gift I wanted was always under the tree and I felt loved.  To this day, I still can remember the joy of my “Baby Alive” I received when I was little and the clock radio I received as a teen.  And of course, my best memory is of the puppy my parents got me, Chico.   Never mind that I drove them nuts acting like a dog so they would get me a dog.  These gifts meant so much to me.   My parents knew that and always did their best to make sure I felt loved.


I don’t recall my parents using a credit card much in my life and they paid cash for most things.  My dad bought his vehicles and boats with cash and he still does today.   We bought items at Garage Sales and my mother sewed.  We always had a garden to grow and preserve our harvest for the winter.  We would even go to the colony to get more produce to meet our needs.  So was I affected by my parents saying “no “to me….yes, I learned to appreciate what I had, work hard, garden, sew, cook, save money and be frugal.  I am so thankful for that today!   My mom is amazing and taught me so much!


I am realizing while writing this what a disservice I am doing to my son by not saying “No” sometimes.   I learned a lot from my experiences with money as a child.  As a parent it is my job to provide for my child, but also to teach him about life, which includes how to handle money.   This is my job and I need to take is seriously.  It is better if he makes a $10 mistake now than a $10,000 as an adult.   



I have had a discussion with my son about how he will need to do his chores to have spending money.   That Mom will not be giving her money to him when he wants it .  We have a list of chores on the side of the fridge and he receives $1 for each completed.  Most weeks, we only can give him $1 or $2 for chores completed.   He could easily earn $10 a week, if he did his chores.   Time to teach the value of money and hard work!   It is my job as a parent to prepare my children for the real world, just as my parents did.   The lessons we teach our children now about how to save, give and spend will lay the foundation for their financial future as an adult.  This will be very hard for me and I am sure I will slip up, but I am going to give it my best!




Jen C



Other Articles in our FPU Series:

Financial Peace University
Our FPU Story: That was then…..This is now
FPU: Leap of Faith
Budgeting…Time to Make a Plan
FPU: Inside Our Weekly Budget Meeting
FPU: Sink Your Debt with a Sinking Fund
Groceries: Cut the Dance and Start to Wiggle!
Summer, Soccer and Avoiding the Golden Arches


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