I hung up the phone and yelled up the stairs to my son, â€œHey, did you forget your $20 at the neighbors?â€
Our next door neighbors had been gone for a week and had enlisted my son to feed their cat and fish each day. He had diligently performed the job, for which he was given a crisp twenty dollar bill when we were at their house for New Year’s Eve. Apparently he had left it sitting on an end table.
â€œOh, yeah, probably,â€ I heard him mumble from inside his room where he was holed up as usual playing video games.
I stood at the bottom of the stairs for a minute expecting him to come bouncing out of his room to head over to the neighbors to get his hard earned money, but it didn’t happen. I decided that if he didn’t care about his $20, I didn’t either.
But the fact that he didn’t take care of his money bugged me, all night.
It made me think about how I as a grown up don’t always take care of my money either:
- Budget Slacking : My wife and I have weekly budget discussions, but sometimes we get complacent or even lazy and just don’t do it. When we finally sit down and put our finances back in order we always find we had spent more than we should have.
- Emergency Fund: It’s supposed to be for emergencies only, but sometimes we justify using for other things like new clothes, or a dinner out with friends when our normal weekly budget isn’t sufficient.
- Retirement Planning: I know I should meet with someone periodically to make sure we have well defined goals for retirement, and ensure we’re contributing enough to our funds to meet those goals. But retirement seems so far away, and we’re likely to be told that we need to contribute more. Which would mean we’d have less to spend now. We’re sacrificing our long term financial success for short term comfort.
I realize that as an adult I don’t take the best care of money all the time either. But I want to ingrain into my son a healthy understanding of the value of his hard earned money so he will grow into a financially responsible adult. The fact that he didn’t care that he left his money at the neighbors and did not immediately correct the situation tells me that I still have some work to do.
The next day, I asked him if he had a plan to get his $20. He just shrugged his shoulders. I had reached my threshold of annoyance and walked next door to retrieve his money. I placed the money on his desk next to him, and launched into a cool, collected, but firm monolog regarding being responsible and valuing money.
â€œThanks,â€ was his response. I hope the message got through.
How would you emphasize the importance of taking care of money to your children? Do you take care of YOUR money?
Brought to you courtesy of Brock