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Local Corner, Mommyhood

TEACHING THE VALUE OF A DOLLAR…

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Out of all the things we teach them, I’m finding the ‘value of a dollar lesson’ one of the hardest.  Not just the meaning behind it (Hubby: “We are going to stop taking you out to eat if you don’t stop wasting food.”  Me: “Mommy and Daddy work really hard to earn money and buy you nice things to have and to eat. It’s not okay to be wasteful“) but also the actual value of a dollar (2YO: “Oh, don’t worry I have money to pay for dinner!” as he holds up a penny he found in the seat cushion.)  I try to use everyday occurrences and turn them into teaching lessons without being too pushy or overbearing – says me.  This summer the kids constructed a lemonade stand and made a shockingly large amount of cash.  I think we walked away with close to $40 that day and that was split between 4 kids. I guess it helps when your under 4 feet tall and cute.  Stop drinking the product, D-Man!

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We stashed the money into a large plastic bag and when I started suggested things to do with it – “How about donate it to kids who don’t have as many opportunities to buy toys as we do? or “How about put it in your piggy banks?”- I got a resounding “Let’s use it at the Arcade!” I really don’t blame them.  It’s human nature to put ourselves first.  It’s human nature to want instant gratification; to spend money when we get it, especially if we worked hard for it.  Adults aren’t that different, right?  It’s hard for us to remember to save.  It’s hard for us to think about putting money towards something that we can’t personally reap the benefits of immediately.  It’s hard to remember the future will be costly.  The U.Fund college investment plan helps you fight this very normal part of human nature.  They make it easy to put just a little bit of money away now – while your kids are still young – so you (or they!) don’t have the burden of massive college debt later.

The kids and I comprised: we split the money down the middle, put half away in piggy banks and brought the rest to Dream Machine.  With the U.Fund, you don’t even need that much. Just the cost of a weekly Starbucks coffee and you’ll be prepared when your kids graduate from selling lemonade to graduating high school.

Yesterday my son found yet another coin in yet another cushion somewhere.  He had been holding on to it all day.  When we got to Target to buy a birthday gift for his friend he turned his gaze up at me and asked unprompted: “Mommy can I pay for it with my money?” I stared at him for a little while, taking in his earnest expression and suppressing the need to teach a monetary lesson.  Maybe it was more important to encourage doing nice things for others with the money we earn.  “Yes, of course you can.  Hand me that quarter and let’s go pay for this together.” He didn’t need to know the gift was a lot more than 25 cents; he just needed to know he was doing the right thing.  And when he’s ready for his college debut, I like to think it will be us gazing up at him this time and saying, “Honey, let us pay for that with our money.”

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