The holiday budget’s a whopper!

The first step to teaching your kids how to handle money is being a good example.

Dave Ramsey

I showed my son the budget for our holiday last night.  He was impressed that we had so much money to spend.  Here it is – we have £287 (that’s about $450).  That is not a huge amount of money in England (and you’ll know it’s peanuts in North America)!  The adults know that we are on a tight budget, the kids think we’re rich.

I had a bit of a giggle about this, and I sat and wondered how best to let my son understand what this all means.  I’m sure you can sympathise with me here.  How often do we do anything with our kids and have the constant questions like “Can I get one of those?” or “Can we go to that place?” and my favourite “Can we buy just that one small toy?”.  I get it all the time, and my go to answer has been, “Well not at the moment but we can sit down and think about it?”

THINK ABOUT IT!  Well that’s easy for me because I know my budget, and I know how much money that I have set aside at any given time.  For my kids, thinking about buying things and spending money means almost zero to them because it’s such a foreign and abstract concept.

For the majority of children out there, understanding money is really difficult.  Why is that?  I think it’s because we just don’t talk to our kids about money often enough.  Especially in this world when we use direct debits and bank cards to make payments, they just don’t get a good idea of how money works.  When I don’t have money to buy something, my daughter often points out to me that “Dad, just use your bank card.”

Is it wrong to show your kids the budget?  I think it’s the completely correct thing to do.  Now I’m not saying that I’m going to sit my kids down and go through a line-by-line statement of every single thing coming in a going out in a month.  I’m not proposing to show them how we’re going to make sure we’re still in the black at the end of the month.  That’s my job.  However, every once in a while, showing them how much money we have for, say, our pending trip, and then showing them how much things are going to cost on that trip is a good thing.  I could already see my son (9 years old) mulling over some of the choices we are making for the trip.

Do any of you out there have any great ways of teaching your kids about money?

Do you think that teaching them money skills now will help them become better adults?

I think it will.  I’m really interested to see if demands for everything on the shelf decreases because they know that we aren’t drawing money from a bottomless pit!  It’s always good to have hope…

Is it harder than you expected?

uphill battle

It is a wise father that knows his own child. – William Shakespeare

How many of you out there think being a dad is the best thing that’s ever happened?  I do.  I love it! But it’s not all gravy, is it?  When you were young, did you have this fantastic notion, like me, that being a dad would consist of the following:

  1. Playing hockey/football/basketball every waking moment.
  2. Teaching your kids every possible thing you know, them sitting attentively, taking in every single word you spoke.
  3. Taking them to every sporting event imaginable.  Taking them on a tour of every stadium (insert your sport here) to watch every team play a game.
  4. Always laughing, always playing, never ever having to be the disciplinarian – leave that stuff up to mom!

Well, if that’s your life now – Man, I hate you.  No, actually, good for you!  Someday maybe I’ll get there too.

My reality of fatherhood doesn’t play out exactly like that ideal dream I once had.  I play a bit of football with my kids, I teach them a few things when they’ll listen, we’ve never been to any stadiums (yet) and we manage to laugh and play quite a bit.  I do this all while being the disciplinarian in the house (I’ll explain that further some other time)! My reality is that I make a lot of mistakes as a dad, I don’t have infinite amount of time to spend with them, and I don’t have money galore to take them everywhere they want or buy them everything they ask for (not a bad thing). My reality is that being a father is a lot harder than I ever could have imagined.

But I wouldn’t change it for the world…although I do strive to make things better.

I wonder how all of you out there feel about this.  Is being a father what you expected?  What are those things you always wanted to do with your kids, but you haven’t been able to do yet? I’m making a big list of things to do with my kids (and letting them be part of it too). I’ll share them with you some day – and how I’m making a plan to get them done. Making this plan is important as it will allow these three things:

  1. Writing it down and making a plan bring it closer to reality.
  2. Getting them involved ensures that the things that I want are aligned with the things that they want.  We’re going to have a lifelong partnership of working together – not battling against each other.
  3. I want to do as much as I can with my kids because I want to truly know them before they wander off in this world and make their way without me.

I hope, like me, you are embracing the tough times, and making things better every day! Ciao for now.