ABC’s of Wisdom
As it appeared in the Beaumont Enterprise
We live in interesting times. People think nothing of spending $ 5 for a cup of coffee with added fluffy cream. Purses that cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars contain very little cash. Artificial nails cost $18-30 and have to be “filled” every three weeks. For millennials ages 25-34 the average debt is $42,000 and most is not student loans. The average debt of the American household is $137,063.
All the wise people I know have financial sense. They understand how to manage money. They understand how to add and subtract. You cannot subtract more than you add to your bank account. Spending more money than you have is not acceptable. Money is simple. It is a commodity of exchange we receive for our time, our skill. So why do so many have so little financial sense?
A budget and a realistic attitude about money is essential. Real success comes when you are totally aware of how much you spend. Kumiko Love, The Budget Mom says, “I’m a huge believer that you cannot create a realistic budget that will work for you until you know your realistic spending.” She should know. Even as a single mother she paid off $77,000 in student loans in three years.
When I was a single mom and every dollar was stretched to the max I used various methods and learned how to make do with the money that came in. I became aware that my children learned about money from me. All children develop their financial sense at home.
Children learn young about the value of money and how to budget even on their allowances. Of course they learn best by your example.
I interviewed a friend for my book, Living Learning Loving. Her example speaks to this issue.
One of the most important lessons that a lack of money can help us learn is the difference between needing or wanting something. A young mother with two daughters who had been single for seven years at the time-shared this key lesson with me, “You must keep your focus.” She said she repeatedly taught her girls the difference between needing and wanting. She didn’t just bark, “You don’t need that,” she sat down with them and explained the difference between wanting and needing. She was a wise woman, because she knew that sometimes it’s easier to show your children the difference between needing and wanting than just explaining it to them. Even though she struggled to make ends meet, she found the time and the giving spirit to do community service and shared that experience with her girls by having them participate with her. It became a family tradition during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, to volunteer their time feeding the homeless or delivering meal packages to the shut-ins as their way of giving back for the times people had helped them. Her children could see with their own eyes what real need was, so when the topic of, “I need a new ____” came up at their home, all she had to say was, “Is it a need or a want?” and the girls knew what she was talking about. By learning to focus, they understood the difference between a need and a want.
The younger a person learns to plan for the future the better their financial future will be. Your attitude about money will color not only your life but will carry over to your children. In fact their approach to money will be formed before they leave home.
Some live a fatalistic financial life. They think they will never get out of debt and do not have the discipline to live with a budget. No thought is given to planning. I hope this isn’t you. I hope your future will be bright and filled with financial wisdom.
Maybe the next time you want a cappuccino, order a cup of coffee instead.
I raised three children as a single mother before I remarried. I have experienced the potholes, pests, and perils of being the single head-of-household. As an educator in regular and special education for twenty years I know a great deal about child development and how to handle kids. I am the founder of SMORE for Women, a nonprofit whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, and Empowered. I'm a Certified Professional Coach and my stories have been published in several books and magazines. My book, Living Learning Loving is available on Amazon.