WE BELIEVE THERE IS STRENGTH IN COMMUNITY. WE MARVEL AT OUR DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AND STRIVE TO LEARN FROM THEM.
SO, LET'S DO THIS KIDS AND MONEY THING TOGETHER.
MEET MARISSA STRATTON, OUR GUEST BLOGGER.
I’m definitely not your girl for planning, and I have the utmost disdain for the the "b word." Ugh. Budgets really are just not my friend (is anyone with me?) But I do have a tremendous desire to model a healthy financial lifestyle for my children because I believe it plays a pivotal role in them being grateful. Raising "caring and grateful" is at the top of my parenting to-do lists.
I have four children, I know…expensive. We are fairly conservative spending money on things for them, and go more in the spend-money-on-experiences route.
That said, I have been anti-device for all five years as a parent. I have often said “my kids will never have their own i-anything.” Multiple times. Now, before I lose you, let me explain, I’m not anti-screen at all, I just think an iPad is a ridiculously elaborate item for a child to have. I don’t even have an iPad. But…I started doing the type of math and budgeting that makes sense to me. I run two businesses out of my home. So a little iPad time [for my kids] started to make sense...cheaper long-term than a nanny, when I only need coverage 10-ish hours a week. Get a lot of work done, everyone’s quiet, everyone’s happy AND on my time. My “they-will-never” was quickly shifting to “am-I-really-going-to-buy-them-an-i-something?”.
My need to get work done with four children at home, coupled with a trip to Tennessee the day after Christmas (ten houuuurrrrs in the car) immediately turned into me stalking Black Friday deals. Those sales just so happened to be another one of my “I-will-nevers,” by the way. After a quick conversation with the grandparents, and great-grandparents on both sides, who were happy to contribute to something that would get continued use, I found myself buying three iPads on Thanksgiving. I know, I don’t even know myself anymore.
We explained on Christmas that the two 5-year-olds and 4-year-old would be getting one big gift from everyone versus a bunch of little gifts. This idea was so genius to me at the time because they didn’t understand the value of things. So in my mind, it was “Yay! Whaaaaatttt??!?!?! We got an iPad!!!!”
However, they said, “we love our iPads, but do we have any other presents?” Even after the "prep" conversation.
They didn’t say it like brats, in fact, they were sweet about it. It was out of genuine curiosity. It was at that point I realized I had made a mistake. I had “prepped” them by saying they would get one big gift from everyone, but did they take that as one high-dollar gift, or one BIG gift...like a gift the size of Africa? I think they were expecting Africa.
Later that day, we had many conversations about being grateful and thankful for such an elaborate gift. I immediately knew it was my moment to make a change. I resolved right there to talk to them more like adults about their money. I decided to start with my older son, who has carried a pocketful of change since the ripe age of two (after realizing his Daddy and Grandpa did the same) as my example. Every place we went, I asked him to pull out his change. He offered to pay for lunch numerous times…I know, such a lover. This resulted in his twin sister wanting to carry her own money. Then her little sister quickly followed suit, too. We went through menus numerous times, and they not-so-quickly realized that they couldn’t afford much. Ok, they couldn’t afford anything.
While I’m extremely thankful for the ability to get much more work done now that we’re an i things family, I’m so relieved that making a huge purchase has opened my eyes to incorporating an intentional, but effective “can you afford it” discourse. Every time I hear “Mommy, can I buy this?” I’m so pleased that they understand I’m not just saying “no” to their “can we buy this?”, they understand that they just can’t afford it.