Business Insider – It’s a strange holiday, isn’t it? The holiday tradition is ultimately to scare people. But, I find the holiday much less scary than the really scary things we do with money. Remember, your kids and grandkids are watching and listening, so here are three frightening money mistakes we commonly make and tips to avoid them.
Scary Thing We Do #1 – “Keeping Up with the Joneses”
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an easy temptation to fall into. For some, it stems from childhood; you may have grown up without the things other kids had. This may even be a reason why you’ve worked so hard to get your money.
Oprah once had me work with a family who suffered from this money affliction. It was tough for them to see their kids as the only ones wearing Walmart sneakers, especially when the rest of the kids were wearing Air Jordans. So, they used their credit card and bought the Air Jordans. Then, it was tough to see their kids be the only ones with one pair of Air Jordans, because the other kids had five pairs each. I think you know how this spiraled out of control and how the debt mounted.
If you are honest, you may catch yourself feeling that it’s tough to be driving a used Toyota when everyone else has a new Lexus. Or, maybe you have put pressure on yourself to have that big house, or latest fashion, or new gadget?
And that, in a nutshell, is the main problem with keeping up with the Joneses. There is no cutoff point; once you get in that whirlpool, you never get out and nothing is ever enough. This is not the message you want to pass on to your offspring.
Tip: Be open and honest with your kids. Tell them that you chose to spend your money in the following ways… You do not believe that people are better or cooler because they have more expensive things. Things are things and do not reflect who you are as a person or as a family. You have made certain choices and others have made other choices… no value judgment; it’s just the way things are.
Scary Thing We Do #2 – Spoiling the Kids
(Grandma and Grandpa, I’m talking to you!)
You are familiar with the scene; every time you come to the door, your grandchildren come running enthusiastically greeting you by saying, “What did you bring me?” It drives you nuts that your children are raising such spoiled kids.
Tip: Stop the constant flow of gifts. You conditioned the grandkids by always showing up with a “surprise.” You have trained them like Pavlov’s dogs. What did you expect? Stop it! Studies “have shown that indulgence actually weakens your child’s powers to survive, deflating motivation and feelings of success. Indulgence… limits freedom by inflating a child’s sense of entitlements…” Gluttony is not healthy. Can you imagine feeling that you have actually harmed your grandkids?
Frankly, what your grandchildren really want is time with you. It doesn’t even have to be the trip to Disney World. Bake cookies, go fishing, play golf, read a book, go through the picture albums and tell stories.
I collect Limoges Boxes that reflect some of the important things that my kids and I have done together. The grandkids and I call them, “Story Boxes”. I tell the “real” story of why I bought the box and then the grandkids have a great time making up an alternative story. It’s fun and I can subtly pass on some of the family stories, or lore, as my kids constantly remind me.
Scary Thing We Do #3 – Keeping the Kids from the Cost of Things
You may have grown up in a similar household to mine, where the biggest secrets all centered on money. “Polite people don’t ask the cost of things,” was the subtle message. How can we expect kids to start getting a grip on reality, like how much they will need to earn to live in the real world, if we don’t involve them in the cost of things? We can’t… even when it comes to something as simple as the check at a restaurant. Our training tells us to shield the kids from the bill. Actually, the menu had the prices on it, so if they are clever, they could have actually figured it out.
Tip: Start with basic things, like the check at the restaurant. Show the kids the bill and let them figure out if it was added correctly. Get them involved with figuring out the tip and let them determine if it should be 15% or 20%. The first time I let my young ones see the check, they were so enthusiastic about the server and wanted to leave a 100% tip. I had to negotiate them down!
Then, play a game and let them guess the cost of cars, or houses, or clothing. They may be shocked, but you are allowing them to experience the real world… which we hope is not too scary!
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