Christmas Edition: Value of a Dollar

What do you want for Christmas? This is the question that I have been asking my kids for the last 10 years or so. I remember when the answer was so simple and by simple I mean cheap! As my kids have gotten older, unfortunately the grand total just keeps getting bigger and more expensive.

When I was teenager, all I wanted for Christmas was some name brand clothes, make up or some CD’s. Now a days there are $100 dollar jeans, $300 headphones and $400 game consoles. I struggle with only having a few items under the tree.

When the kids were younger, I could go to the dollar store or a department store and buy a bunch of little crap for cheap money. I would wrap them all up and stick them under the tree. The kids were so excited to open up all of those $1 cars or $5 doll, because it was quantity over quality.

My kids don’t really care how many items are under the tree now. Don’t get me wrong, they would be a little disappointed if what they put on their list wasn’t under the tree; they would understand. I have been teaching my children the value of money since they were old enough to truly understand. They understand if they want something they need to work hard to get it.

When the kids wanted IPads, they needed to come up with half of the money on their own. They could raise their half, we would pay the other half. They did chores, saved money from gifts and did extra odd jobs to raise their half. They were so excited to go to the store and pick up their IPads.

I will admit that my kids are spoiled; they pretty much have everything they want. If they ask for something, one way or another, we get it for them. When I was young, we were extremely poor. We didn’t have any name brand clothes, game consoles or cell phones. Not that cellphones were the commodity that they are today…. People had pagers back then.

We are not rich by any means, but we work really hard to make sure our children don’t need for anything. We want them to have better lives than we had. They see us working hard and buying things for them because we want to. They also know that we are not made of money and we don’t have a money tree growing in the yard. They work hard too to get things that they want as well.

My daughter will be driving next year and she will need to take driver’s education classes. She saved up her portion of the cost of the classes last summer. She got her first job at McDonald’s and saved most of her paycheck every week. She opened a checking account and has a separate account for her driver’s education classes.

Now don’t think she didn’t spend any of that money on regular teenager stuff, because she did. She bought some clothes and make-up. She even bought me a necklace that I have hanging from my rear view mirror. That necklace wasn’t for my birthday or for Christmas; it was a gift from her just because. Which I think is the sweetest thing in the world. Every time I look at that necklace my heart is full with pride and love for my sweet girl.

We are trying to find the balance between giving our kids everything they want and not raising spoiled children. We want them to get the things they want, but we don’t want them to be unappreciative, insensitive jerks.

We have talked to them about how much things cost and that realistically they cannot always get exactly what they want when they want it. We educate them on how they can obtain the things that they want. They obtain those things hard work and persistence. Maybe they can’t get that $80 game right now? However, in a few months when they have earned some money they can go out and buy it. I will even be willing to help them as long as they have worked to earn some of the money.

Life isn’t about handouts. I want them to know that I am more than happy to give them the things they want as long as they are working hard. Do they give 100% at school? Are they getting the best grades that they can? Do they do chores around the house and help us when we need to get things done? If they are willing to work hard and help me and themselves, I am more than willing to continue to buy them the things they want.

Due to this effort to teach our children about the value of money, my kids don’t bother asking me for the $1000 Yeezy sneakers or brand new vehicles. However, I am happy to buy them almost any pair of sneakers at Dick’s Sporting Goods. They can have my car when I am ready to trade it for a newer one. Of course, they will need to pay for car insurance and gas, but they won’t have to struggle to purchase a vehicle.

So, yeah I spend more on Christmas and yes my kids have fewer presents under the tree. They are not missing out on anything and they appreciate all the hard work that their parents put in every day. I think that is the best lesson of all.

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