Mom Money Stories

In parenting our daughter, Emery, “being a financial planner” and “being a normal mom” can come into conflict. My financial planner hat says be a good steward of your money and set an example for your daughter. It will benefit her for years to come. My mom hat says she has really sweet brown eyes and asks very nicely for a toy. Sometimes, she even says, “Mom, you are so beautiful today! Can I have a toy?” Hmmm. Should I be suspicious?

When Emery was first born, I was set on teaching her all the right money moves. As she got older—she’s four now—I found myself thinking more often “It’s not a bad thing to buy her this or that.” When I was young, we always struggled financially. Receiving a toy rarely happened outside of Christmas or my birthday. Often, we are in a store now and I catch myself thinking and “I know I can afford that, and I always wanted one when I was growing up!” Someday, I’ll share my money story with you about the pink Minnie Mouse cash register! Sigh!

A few things I’ve learned to settle this internal conflict.

First, I cut out getting a toy every time we go to a store. It wasn’t that I was buying expensive stuff, but it was adding up. Not only that, but, one by one, these items cluttered up our house. And Emery loses interest when there are too many toys. Surprisingly, it didn’t take her long to understand the purpose of going to Walmart is not to buy a toy. She still asks, but understands when I say no.

Two other things I learned: Nathan and I need to help Emery select toys thoughtfully and not just buy the first thing she sees. There was too much money wasted on toys that were not well made and were broken the same week they were bought. Also, when she is given money by relatives or earns money
from us, we shouldn’t supplement what she has so she can get a more expensive toy. She needs to learn to stay within her budget at some point, correct?

I had a proud mommy moment recently. Papaw gave Emery 14 one dollar bills (this is their tradition when they visit one another). I explained to her that money doesn’t come so freely for many people, and she needed to divide her money up between what she was going to spend and what she would give to other kids that needed it. Much to my surprise, she counted the dollar bills and handed me $8. (I expected to get $2 at most! Whether or not she realized what she was doing is another story.) We put the money for others aside in an envelope and decided when the total reached $20, she could choose where to donate it. I considered that a victory for both the financial planner and the mommy!