Being a parent is tough. Somedays you feel on top of it all - getting the school work done, keeping your cool in stressful situations, spending quality time with your kid - and other days you feel like you’ve dropped every ball and then kicked a few of them straight out of the room on top of it. But kids are resilient, and they are absorbing and learning so much more than we realize some times, even when we feel like we are failing them in one way or another.
The other day, I was sitting with my kids, looking through their Scholastic Book Club flyer. I had told them they could each pick out a book or two, but my oldest daughter had spied a Survival Science Kit and decided that she desperately needed it. She begged me to buy it for her, but I stuck to principles (for the moment) and told her that she was free to spend her own money to buy it, but that I was only buying books.
She grabbed her money management binder and saw that she had exactly $0 in the Spend category. And we have a rule in our house that you can’t use money in Save to buy something unless it’s been on your Wish List for at least a week, so we can encourage our kids to embrace the delayed gratification concept. Needless to say, she was pretty disappointed and started asking me if she could get an advance on her allowance to put some money in Spend.
In hindsight I should have taken the opportunity to teach her about loans, credit scores, and interest, but I wasn’t thinking quickly enough that day. Instead, in a moment of total weakness, I neglected my principles and told her I’d let her use the money in Save to buy the science kit, since I knew it would be much longer than a week before she’d have the opportunity to buy something from the book club again.
But you know what? She didn’t take me up on it. Instead, she looked at me and said, albeit a bit dejectedly, “But Mom, that’s against the rules to not wait a week, and I’m sticking to the rules.” I was blown away! I realized in that moment, that even though I feel like I am failing my kids some days by not giving them the undivided attention they need or by failing to make them lunch before 2 PM when I’m stuck in a meeting - they are taking to heart the things we say and observing and modeling back the things we do. I often remind my kids about how we don’t buy things off the cuff, just because we feel like it, and I try to demonstrate that to them, too. And here was a moment when my daughter showed me that she was listening and learning.
It felt like such a full circle moment for me, as the idea for these binders was born out of a similar moment at a school book fair a couple years ago. But this time, my daughter had the financial knowledge and good sense to make smart money decisions on her own. Our money management binders naturally help your kids learn how to be thoughtful savers, generous givers, and determined investors, despite any perceived failings on our part as parents. And that's a parenting win!