Categories
Parenting

“They Must Be Rich Because They Have a Pool”

Late last year, J took a trip with his dad to visit his cousins. When he got home, he recounted all his adventures and added, “they must be rich because they have a pool.”

A few years ago, I would have agreed with him. His cousins have a very large house, drive fancy cars and take elaborate vacations.

But then I read The Millionaire Next Door. (Here’s the first chapter if you want a preview!)

In it, the author makes the important point that you can’t tell how much people have based on what they buy.

Hearing it now, it makes total sense. But for 30+ years, I can say that that thought never occurred to me.

So we talked about it. I told him that you can’t tell how much people have saved. The pool doesn’t prove that they DO have a lot of money and it also doesn’t prove that they DON’T.

I brought it up again last night. I said, “Do you remember when you said that your cousins must be rich because they have a pool? Does having a pool or a fancy car or big house mean you are rich?” To which he replied no. I asked, “Does it mean that you aren’t rich?” And he also said no. (Woo! He remembered!)

Then I asked, “What does it mean?” Unfortunately, he was hard pressed to explain further.

So I explained again that there was NO WAY to tell how much money someone had saved based on their car or house or vacations. Maybe you can tell how much they spent, but really not even that completely because maybe they got the item at a discount or given to them.

Categories
Parenting

Results of the No Present Party Experiment

J’s 9th birthday party was last weekend! If you remember, we asked for no presents, phrasing it like this: “Please, please no gifts for the birthday boy.” And if guests wanted to, they could bring something to donate to our local animal shelter. We said: “J would like to make a donation to [Specific Shelter] for his birthday. If you would like to donate with us, please consider something small from their needs list: [link].

I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. J mentioned that some kids said they were still going to bring him a present (in addition to a donation), even though he told them not to. I even heard one mom make a comment to another – that her husband said, “Are they trying to make us feel bad? Are we supposed to do this now?”

A few parents texted before the party with questions, and I reiterated what the invitation said and how we wanted to focus on giving.

J and I had a few talks before the actual party as well – that the party was the present and getting to spend time with his friends. (Just to try to avoid a potential upset kid when he realized there were no presents for him.)

But all in all, it DID seem to work!

Categories
Parenting Saving

Important Lessons I Learned From My Parents

A few weeks ago, J and I went out to dinner with my parents. When the check came, my dad asked J to calculate the tip. Luckily we had just talked about this, so he was able to figure it out — but it made me think about all of the other money and finance lessons I’ve learned from my parents.

So far I’ve mentioned that my dad would drill me on the rule of 72 and part of any money I received had to go towards opening savings bonds, but there were many more lessons over the years.

My dad was relentless with the sayings:

  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
  • You don’t have to spend it all!
  • Don’t spend more than you make
  • Save some for a rainy day

When I was in middle school, he took me to our local credit union and we opened a checking account. He showed me how to write checks and use an ATM card.

Categories
Parenting

Celebrating Birthdays Without All the Presents

J will be 9 in a few months (!) and we’re having a swimming birthday party at the Y. For his last party, we went mini golfing with his friends, and we came home with more presents than we knew what to do with.

This time around, we’re going to scale down a bit, starting with presents.