It’s interesting to me to see how each of my children view (and spend) money differently. I wonder if they’ll have similar spending habits twenty years from now.

Judah is a careful saver – not exactly a miser – but he saves it up until he has an impressive amount and then he still thinks long and hard before he spends a chunk of it on any one thing. He spends lots of money in his mind – gets on amazon and ebay and drools over new games and music. He’s the one who reminds me how forgetful I’ve been with their weekly allowance. They all keep their money in their metal cash boxes from Aunt Scottie, but Judah has started using a wallet too.

Wesley spends his money at the drop of a hat. Matchbox cars? Gum? Cheap plastic toys that are lucky to last all the way home? If he’s got the money in his pocket, then he’s gotta have it. He also regularly spends the money that he forgot to bring along with him. i.e. “Mom, will you please buy this for me? I’ll pay you back when we get home!” (He may be smart – it’s usually a small item, and usually we both forget to transfer cash once we get back home.) And… when Wesley’s headed off to get money out of his cash box, I can usually expect to hear, “Mom, do you know where my key is?”

And then there’s Avery. She knows the names of the coins, and we’re working on cementing their values in her mind. She couldn’t care less about spending money, but she is aware that some things are “expensive.” Sometimes she makes me laugh when she tells me that she wants something and then says, “…but you probably don’t have enough money for that.” What does a mother say to that? Silly girl, of course I have enough money to buy this $3 flashlight that projects 3 different pictures of Tinkerbell on your ceiling – I just know how long it will last before it’s dismantled/lost/broken etc.

Malin is intrigued by money. She’s always wanting to know how much money I have. Today it was, “Mom, do you have $1,000?” I guess I inherited from my parents the lack of desire to discuss personal finances with my children. When I was growing up, I always thought we were poor. I noticed that other people bought more things than we did, my list of “what did you get for your birthday” always seemed to be shorter than my friends’ and (like my own children) I was told “no” a lot in stores. I believed in our somewhat “poverty” until high school, when it was time to start thinking about SAT scores and college preparation. We were given lists of careers that we might choose for our futures along with their corresponding salaries. I remember looking down that list at “engineer” and thinking, “Whoa. THAT’s what my dad is making?” (I should probably mention here that we were always well provided for. We always had what we needed, along with plenty of things that we just wanted.)

I started appreciating then that my parents were frugal – they didn’t blow their money on every little whim. They saved it for the more important things. I probably didn’t completely appreciate their frugality until I was on my own, getting to spend my own money.

I can’t say that I’m just like my parents though. This week on our trip to Florida, when we stop for gas, we will senselessly spend money on bottled drinks and overpriced snacks. My children like that. I like that. I also like gas station coffee – but that’s beside the point.

The thing I wonder is – how much is it good and helpful to talk to your children about money? When I answered yes to Malin’s question, she said, “You could buy a new bed! But…. that would probably take almost all of your money.” I just let her believe what she wants – she doesn’t need to be filling her friends in on how much money we have in our savings account.

I was surprised that Malin put such a high price tag on a new bed. $1,000. When I was 7, I never would have imagined that a bed could cost so much – then again, that was a long time ago… maybe it didn’t.

It really was quite the random conversation this morning.


About ruthie.voth

Wife of one, mother of four, friend of many. Lover of details, color, good conversations, finding balance, and being honest. Passionate lover of a well-crafted sentence - even more so if it's witty. Weird blend of cynical optimist. I'm the worst kind of woman. I'm high maintenance, but I think I'm low maintenance. Somehow, people still love me. Must be grace.
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3 Responses to -spending-

  1. Such a great post!You probably know that your parents got their reluctance to discuss finances from their parents.

    I have it too even though I was somewhat intentional about doing it differently with my children.

    Sometmes when I visit schools, kids will ask me if I’m rich or how much money I make from a book.

    Once I did tell one group how much advance I got. I hoped they would be appropriately disappointed as I was! Afterward I thought it seemed really tack to do that. Usually I tell them I get 10 percent on each book that is sold and let them do some math.


    • ten4ruthie says:

      You never know… maybe that answer resonated with someone in that one group. Sometimes I get so tired of the vague, do-the-math-yourself answers, and it makes me really happy to get a real number – even if it is disappointing or unprofessional. Like: how much is this surgery going to cost? No one gives you an actual number because they’re afraid of being wrong. I figure even a wrong number is a good ballpark figure. Anyway…
      It was nice to find a comment on here this morning.


  2. Uncle Dave says:

    Ruthie, don’t despair about the spendthrift. Doug couldn’t keep a dime in his pocket in his younger years, but now he borders on stingy. He has lived in his house for 10 years but there are still things to be done … when he has the money. He won’t borrow to finish it.

    And tell your aunt Joyce we all know she is rich and famous ….


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