The JuiceBox on my sidebar is full of money this week. Mint.com (an awesome and free way to manage your money online) is the sponsor. They’ve asked – and sponsored – me to talk about one of my favorite topics: MONEY (and you should definitely click around the widget and check out the fun $$ content!).
Like I stated above, make sure to check out the Mint.com campaign. It is in the green Juice Box Jungle widget on the right.
My wife and I had decided to start being frugal, using coupons and cutting back on wasteful spending in order to pay off student loan and credit card debt quicker. So like any responsible parents we sat down our four children and explained to them that we were going to start being more frugal and saving money. We explained how they could do their part by helping with turning off lights when not in use, helping spot coupons, and not being wasteful.
A couple months later everything was cruising along just as we hoped. Our electric bill was smaller, our grocery budget saw a HUGE drop, and the kids were doing everything they could to help. They were bringing coupons home from school. They were reminding us to bring the reusable bags when we went shopping and telling us everything they could think of to help save money.
What I didn’t realize is how far they would go or what they were willing to give up for their parents. This is where I learned a very important lesson in communicating about money with my children.
See what I forgot to explain to my children was even though we were using coupons and trying not to be wasteful that we were not broke and did not need to go without. What happened to enlighten me to this fact you ask? Well two different incidents almost at the same time. First I overheard my 9 year old daughter who loves to read books more than anything talking to a good friend of ours who the children call “Uncle Mike”. They were talking about what books she had read lately and such when all of a sudden I heard her ask “Uncle Mike” if he would send her some money to buy some books because we were saving money and couldn’t afford it. After I picked myself up of the floor and explained to my good friend that we were indeed not broke my wife came to me with incident #2. It seems my oldest daughter, who is 14 ,and my wife were talking. The topic of conversation was the homecoming dance at her school that was taking place on that Friday (the next day). When my wife asked her why she wasn’t going or hadn’t brought it up earlier my daughter said she didn’t want us to have to spend the money for a new dress or the $25 admission ticket.
As you can imagine my wife and I saw our mistake very quickly and called a family meeting. We sat the children down and explained to them in more detail why we were saving and that by no means were we broke. We told them that what we wanted to do was still buy the same things that we always have for them but make sure we were being smarter with our purchases. With the dress for example, we explained by saving that didn’t mean not buying a dress and doing without, it meant we looked for a dress that was on sale or that we had a coupon for.