Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kids, Money, and the Frugal Lifestyle

Living a frugal lifestyle is difficult as it is; add kids and it turns downright challenging. It is back-to-school season and the schools have the longest list ever of stuff kids need to bring the first day. No wonder teachers complain they make too little. Most seem to lack basic money skills to get, keep, invest, and manage their money.

Once the school has your wallet open it is time for peer pressure from fellow students and their parents to encourage more stupid spending.
  • Did you drive your kids to school in an over-priced, gas-guzzling SUV? Then you are a mean mommy. Your kids will be scarred for life.
  • Did you buy your children the latest electronic toy, gizmo, cell phone, iphone (i anything), or gadget from Apple? Then you are a mean, good-for-nothing daddy. Your kids will be scarred for life.
  • How much did you spend on the summer vacation? Not enough. Did you even go on a summer vacation? No? What will the other students, their parents, and the teacher thinks when the class shares their summer activities? Your kids will be scarred for life.
  • Is your home over 3,000 square feet? Flat screen TV? No? What is the matter with you? Now nobody wants to be your child's friend. Only a low-life would treat their kids in such a manner. They will be scarred for life.
  • Please tell me you bought your kids the latest and trendiest cloths for the first day of school. No? What is the matter with you? Child Services should be called. That is child abuse. Your kids will be scarred for life.
And the litany goes on. Your self-worth and -esteem are hinged directly to how much you spend beyond your means if you believe the media and the folks at school or the coffee shop. Why?

The reason is clear to me. Advice given is meant to serve the person giving the advice, not you. The government wants you to borrow and spend more to help the economy; the financial planner says to NOT pay off your mortgage and invest the money; the banker says to borrow for a car or boat. All that advice is wrong. The elected government official wants to get re-elected; the investment advisor wants a commission; the banker, interest.

Even I am not immune. The amount of time I grant toward convincing you to live debt-free is small. I am your accountant. If you really think paying the bank $10,000 in interest is worth the $3,000 you get from the government is tax savings is a deal, go for it. I can point out the extra refund I got you, charge you $300, shake your hand, and go home. Of course, I will use the $300 to pay off my mortgage of fill my bank account.

The day you find pride in living a frugal life; the day you grin ear-to-ear because someone points out your strange frugal ways is the day you are truly free from the rat race.

Think about the pressure you get to spend money. Ask yourself: What is in it for the advice giver? Ask yourself: What is in it for you?

Bowing to peer pressure and refusing to teach your children fiscal responsibility IS child abuse. By withholding these basic needs in managing money you condemn your children to a life of servitude to money.

Money problems lead to crime, alcohol, child, and spousal abuse, stress, insomnia, divorce, and a litany of other health and social problems. Teach your kids by example. Live within your means and really enjoy life.

This is the greatest gift you can give your children and the lesson is never taught in school.

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