Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day 10, Entitlement (93...Free!)

Growing up, we didn't stop in at McDonald's if we were running late. We didn't grab a pack of gum or a bag of M&M's at the checkout counter. We didn't routinely go out to eat and we never stopped at the department store's snack counter for a treat. It just wasn't a part of our lives. If we asked for a toy at the store or wished aloud to stop at the gum machine or the mechanical horse, the reply was always, "Well, did you bring your money?"

In the last twenty years, it seems that people have gone from thinking of "Happy Meals" as extras to thinking of them as a routine part of life. We're somehow entitled to that daily cup of Starbucks or a mega-sized Jamba Juice. Why? Why are we entitled to all these "extras"--no longer extras--that really aren't that good for us...and are costly??

So often, our sense of entitlement results in us living beyond our means. Our kids aren't entitled to Happy Meals...and neither are we. Our pocketbooks would be thicker and our waists and homes would be leaner if we stopped buying things that we don't need. It takes very little to be truly happy.

This whole post actually came about because my mom and I were talking about the current economic crisis. She said that she is thankful that our family is content with so little...we aren't big on "things." It's true. Now I am led to consider ways of passing that feeling of contentment to my children.

What are your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

This is actually a core family value for me. I think about it all the time and I work on it all the time.

I've done a number of things to try and enstill this value in my kids.

1. No birthday party or Xmas excess. I don't do birthday parties where 20 kids each bring a $20 gift. We do family birthdays and a limited friend thing -- with the exception of a single party my 10 yo had at age 6 where we invited all 9 girls from her daycare class to a pottery painting place. This party marked the end of daycare days and she still talks about it.

2. We inherit used clothing (or buy used clothing) and inherit some great used toys. My kids are fine with this.

3. The school my oldest attends has a large socioeconomic range, with a trend towards families of modest means. This has created a peer culture that is remarkably free of consumerism. So, I have nothing to counter at home. School friends live simply ... and so do we.

4. We spend a lot of time together just hanging out as a family or going to community events together (that's very cheap and models that you don't have to spend money to have fun!)

5. I had a friend give my oldest $20 for her birthday each year in small coin denominations, to buy scholastic books. The intent was to provide a math activity. The bonus was that it gave an opportunity to teach about getting value for your money (NOT buying the books with the gadgets which are much more expensive for gadgets that are poor quality) and also NOT buying this month (if nothing really appealed) so you would have more money the next month if there was something you really wanted but was more expensive.

6. I talk about money decisions I make in a kid friendly way. E.g. They see me research what to do before deciding on a new mortgage, a new investment etc. If they want something frivolous and I say "no", I explain that you have to make choices about how to spend your money and that that wouldn't be a good choice (and why).

7. I'm explicit. I tell them, "Love is more important than money".

Trishamoongirl said...

That was awesome. I love this whole section on living with daily needs ONLY, its very helpful and I thank you for taking the time to post it.

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