Even though over the past 4 years I have tried to be über frugal, my kids still struggle from "affluenza." I believe it is a chronic condition...or likely to be if I don't do something about it. An unfortunately I cannot find an affluenza shot or even the nose spray...no easy solution.
My 5 and 7-year old daughters believe that every time I get change at the store I'm actually making money! How cool would that be! They also get annoyed with me if I say we can't spend money and say, "Mommy, if you would just stop going to the store and buying stuff you'd have money!" There is truth in that but it is an illogical argument when they want me to actually buy them something at the store. I never seem to have a satisfactory response to that statement.
My 12-year old son complained the other day that ALL of his friends have an IPhone...well, almost all. Unfortunately and surprisingly he is probably right. I just smiled and said, "Honey, I didn't have a cell phone until I was 40. I think you can make it a few more years." He sighed and moaned and accepted it (at least until tomorrow).
My 15-year old daughter tries to be frugal but she struggles. She $5 and $10s me to death. We are working on it. At least she winces with me at the cash register...that's something.
My 18-year old college student won't spend money...even money I want him to spend on things like FOOD! He is so careful with money. He is saving up for a car...actually I believe my savings account is about ¼ of his...that's pathetic.
Unfortunately my savings account is on a diet...not a lot of fat going in but a lot of fat going out. (Wow that was a terrible analogy! Wish I could think of a better one.)
I'm working on teaching my children the value of money beyond me just saying, "Don't ask for anything, I'm outta money!"
I had a friend that sat down with her older children and actually showed the budget and it really helped with the constant requests for things. I'm planning on doing that with my children as soon as I finish getting the budget in order.
I also read a book about teaching our children the value of work. I've never given my children an allowance, not because I have anything against it but because I can't seem to remember to do it. And surprisingly they don't ask...I believe they know I'll probably say, "Let's go look at your room and see how clean it is before I start doling out dollars!" Let's put it this way...allowance is a moot point because my kids are not the best bedroom cleaner-uppers!
But what do I do to help my children understand life isn't about stuff?
I like stuff too, but I understand that a lot of the stress in my life is because of all the stuff I have to deal with...I'd much rather have less stuff and more time. I'd rather spend my time with people than stuff any day.
Maybe the first step is modeling that to my kids. Putting aside the tasks for the people in my life. Not getting so fussy about things and realizing that the people in my life are the most important. Modeling generosity with what we have. I love the quote by Elizabeth Anne Seton, "Live simply so others may simply live." She's an ancestor so maybe that's why I like it so much, or maybe it's just because it is a truth I want to impart to my children.
There are people in this world who live without daily food and shelter and we who have so very much and still struggle with being content.
My prayer is that we could teach our children that our value is not in what we have but who we are and how we live.
May we cure our affluenza with lives lived generously, compassionately and contentedly!