Tag Archives: budget

The Limits of Parental Indulgence

"Sergio's Finish" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“I feel terrible about not being able to buy my kids what their friends have. But I can’t afford to buy them new ipods and shoes right now.”

Your value as a parent lies in what you communicate to your children and the values that you convey, not in what you purchase for them. You are not doing your kids any favors by buying them everything that they want or that their friends have. You are doing them a favor by not doing so and explaining to them why not.

Even when parents can afford things, they are giving more to their kids by NOT teaching them to feel entitled to have everything they want. Learning delayed gratification and planning for the future are valuable gifts that will go a long way in encouraging capability and independence.

Simply say,

“Right now we need to save money for the mortgage, emergencies, retirement, and your college.”

Or

“It’s important to have money put away to ensure that we will survive another potential downturn. Twenty dollars here, a hundred dollars there, add up surprisingly fast.”

It’s all in your attitude that says they’ll be fine without the new merchandise. If you don’t show anxiety about their wanting things or about their being “without,” then they will learn to live more comfortably with desiring things and not having them right away.

You can also suggest to them that they can save up for what they want themselves. If children learn both to wait and to work for what they want, they will end up appreciating the items more, or they will lose interest in acquiring them all together.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

“I want to enjoy life and not just think about money.”

"Flow"
by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

It is a false dichotomy to suggest that a person either enjoys life or thinks about money. It’s true that some people are more the accountant, organizing type, while some are the more romantic, impulsive type. Yet, as counter-intuitive as it seems, the more highly-developed your inner bookkeeper becomes, the more you can truly develop your inner romantic, and vice versa.

The key is to develop both of these parts within yourself—the wise and efficient financial planner and the romantic who knows how to live life to the fullest—and to be able delegate between the two.

Problems generally develop when people identify exclusively with one side or the other.

Visualize the one-sided accountant type with pursed lips and a furrowed brow, who buys a ski lift ticket, and then can’t stop second guessing the purchase and calculating the cost of each ski run rather than enjoying the skiing. The one-sided romantic type, on the other hand, shoves all bills in a drawer and, happy-go-lucky, ignores and forgets them until the day of reckoning. The first cannot enjoy the moment and the second is headed for a financial cliff.

When you build a house, different trades focus on particular specialties—the electrician on lighting, the plumber on plumbing and so on. What is critical is that there is a general contractor to coordinate it all.

Similarly, people need to schedule and coordinate their inner “trades.” By avoiding financial chaos and debt overload, you can create peace of mind to live life without having to fear an impending crisis. Here are some guidelines to find a balance between taking care of the future and enjoying the present:

1. Spend less than you earn. The worry about growing debt rarely is worth the things purchased on credit. Focus instead on all the free things that can create a fulfilling life.

2. Put money into savings first. Savings provide security and allow one the freedom to make transitions in life. For example, with adequate savings, you can handle losing your job or consider changing your job and save for retirement.

3. Pay bills at a scheduled time. If you pay your bills on a scheduled day every week, you take care of your business and alleviate the dread of dealing with bills and accumulated debt.

4. Take care of issues promptly when they’re small. When you can’t pay a bill or a bank statement seems to be wrong, deal with the problem immediately before it turns into an overwhelming predicament. By moving from dread to action, you minimize complications, extra fees, and your own psychological discomfort.

5. Once you’ve dealt with your finances, choose to enjoy life and the people around you. After dealing with bills and the budget, allow your inner accountant to recede into the background, and bring forward other parts of your personality to enjoy the present moment. Purposefully switch modes from being task-oriented, responsible, and bean counting to being in your body, connected to others, and appreciating the world around you.

We can never completely alleviate financial insecurity. Yet by thinking about money, finances and other practicalities at regular intervals, we actually free ourselves from thinking about money all the time, giving ourselves enough serenity from worry to enjoy life more fully.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Avoidance Behavior: ‘I’ve been dreading telling her about our financial problems.’”

Read “Saving money: ‘I want to buy this now!’”

Read “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: ‘Since he lost his job, he doesn’t seem to care about our relationship.’”