|BRAGG: Teaching children value of dollar early
|Posted: Sunday, July 22, 2012 5:40 am
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|Son John and I had a conversation recently about learning the value of money at an early age.
He is now 30 and reminded me that the best way he learned how to budget money was going on summer trips with our friend Stephanie Turley.
I have written before about the educational – and fun – trips Stephanie organized for teenagers and young adults. She would load a busload of her children, friends and chaperones (actually, anyone who was interested) and take them to historical and exciting destinations in the U.S. In later years they even ventured abroad.
One of the trips I remember the most was when John and his peers headed to Washington, D.C. in the early '90s during spring break. An unseasonable snow storm ensued and they were trapped in a motel Wytheville, Va., for four days and had to turn around and head back home. They still talk fondly about it.
I also remember when Stephanie took daughter Anne and a group to Austria. Anne called home from the banks of the Rhine River and said to her dad and me on a long-distance call, "This place is so old."
We still laugh about that a lot too.
Stephanie once told me my children had a very good concept of spending their money wisely, and that meant a lot to me.
When our children were in grade school it wasn't too hard to deny them things because, frankly, we didn't have supplementary income. Like everyone else at the time we struggled to make ends meet and "extras" were just that – extra, not everyday things. So when they got something – say a new dress – it was special.
I am reminded of that daily as I walk down the steps to my garage where hanging on the wall is an almost 25 year old black-and-white photo of daughter Beth and her friends – Stephanie Christiansen, Libba Loyd, Jody O'Neal, Beth Scribner and Kerry Lovelace (all maiden names) – taking a break from a swim team meet.
Everyone had on a team bathing suit except Beth. I guess I told her we couldn't afford it and I still feel badly when I look at that.
Then when the children wanted certain material things, I'd turn to Tommy for advice and ask if we should let them have them.
Did YOU have them?" He would say.
"Of course not, we couldn't afford it," I'd reply. And he'd say, "You turned out just fine. And I'll bet they can do without it too."
I am also frequently quoted by my friend Frances Hogue.
She says she always heeded my advice with her only (in my opinion, very well-behaved) daughter.
I told Fran that I thought every girl should have the following three things regardless of how much they cost if the parent could afford it; a prom dress, blue jeans and a bathing suit. I found that with my girls those things were very important to them and try to help them buy those whenever we could.
When the children were younger I would gauge how much my they wanted something by asking them if they were willing to pay for half of it (with money they had earned from their various jobs). If they were willing to pay half I knew it was important to them and always chipped in the rest.
It is not easy in today's world to know when to indulge and when to withhold, especially with grandchildren. When I told one of my friends about four years back that I didn't have any grandchildren she said, "What do you spend your money on?"
Because my only grandchildren live in a very small space and don't need anything, I don't over indulge them, in my opinion.
But I'm glad the days are over when I have to worrying about indulging (or not) those living under my roof.
But back to letting kids go on trips with Stephanie and budget their own money.
They were all allotted a certain amount of money to last the duration of the trip.
John told me this week that, when his chaperone was Joyce Ealy, now a county commissioner and County Budget Committee chairwoman, she would give them an envelope for each day and advise them to spend only that amount daily.
And John said that's exactly what he did.
That's exactly what Tommy and I did as newlyweds too.
We would entitle envelopes "Rent," "Food," "Gas," etc., and put them in a cigar box. When we ran out, we ran out.
We lived in Missouri then when he was in the Air Force and it was a long way from home. For entertainment we'd go to local league baseball games and I think because we were so lonesome it made us very close.
The children asked us recently why we were lucky to have stayed married so long.
Tommy said it was because we laughed a lot and because we never spent money we didn't have. And I do think both of those are true.
I said it's because of something a woman told TV talk show host Dr. Phil once. "We never fell out of love with each other at the same time."
'Til next week.