Browse Tag: spending

Header image for delayed gratification post

Delayed Gratification For The Win

Several weeks ago, my sister sent J a gift in the mail — the Harry Potter Lego Dimensions Team Pack. J is a HUGE Lego fan, so naturally Legos are a great gift for him.

When he received them, however, he told me that he didn’t have the rest of the parts necessary to use them. Apparently you need a starter pack, and oh, it’s available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U.

Yeah, we don’t have any of those.

I immediately stopped investigating how we could play with this toy, and we started brainstorming on what we could do instead.

Now what?

J decided to return the gift and get something else. Having no idea how much Lego Dimension Team Packs are worth, we headed to the store and hoped for the best. (Seriously, though, how much could it be? There were like four pieces in this tiny box.)

Imagine our delight when we found out the return value was $25 (!!!). We walked around the store for awhile, trying to find something to get instead. He picked up a few things, but there was nothing that he wanted that he could afford.

So we took a step back. I asked him what he really wanted.

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how-much-does-your-vacation-really-cost

How Much Does Your Vacation Really Cost?

Back in March, we went on a road trip and J calculated how much we spent. I thought it was great for him to be able to see exactly how much a vacation really costs.

So when we went to Virginia Beach a few weeks ago, I wanted to have him calculate the cost again, with a few tweaks.

During the trip, we collected all receipts in a folder. We didn’t attempt to do any worksheets or calculating while we were away! A few days after we got home, we sat down and filled out our new and improved trip log (once all of the EZ Pass transactions posted).

This time, we divided all of our receipts into categories. We ended up with seven groups: gas, tolls, groceries, eating out/snacks, household items and lodging.

He labeled each green box with the category. Then he used a running total approach with the register. This involves:

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great-allowance-debate

The Great Allowance Debate

Allowances. To give or not to give. It’s a hot topic.

To put it simply, I think there are three main camps:

  • Don’t give it at all. I already feed, clothe and shelter you.
  • Give it unconditionally. Here is some money and it is yours.
  • Give it conditionally, based on desired actions. Here is money for completing X chores, getting Y grades, etc.

And we…

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money-talk-money-walk

Does Your Money Talk Match Your Money Walk?

If you’ve been around awhile, you know that my focus on National Bank of Mom is 1) teaching my son kick-ass money management skills and 2) fostering good communication between us.

I teach him how to balance his savings, spending and giving accounts, how to plan for a large purchase and how to save at least 10% of his income.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that talk will only get me so far.

If I want to instill these skills in my son, I have to make sure I’m walking the talk. I have to look at my own actions and behavior and ask myself, “Is what I’m doing contradicting what I’m saying?”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

That couldn’t be more true. So much of what we learn is unspoken. We pick things up from our friends, family and society around us — what’s “normal” and expected. How life works.

To that end, ask yourself the following questions and examine your behavior:

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must-be-rich-because-pool

“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.

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