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Kids & Credit

How are you teaching your children what money can buy?

We’ve been exploring the topic of what money can buy in our last few newsletters. This week, I thought I’d explore this topic as it pertains to kids. I’m not sure how things were in your house growing up, but when I was a kid, I got a minimal allowance for doing chores around the house. And I always made sure those chores got done because I loved the reward of getting that money. 

It seems so simple – I did work, and I got money, right? Now fast-forward to parenting in current times. Like my dad did, I tell Gates and Ridley that if they do certain chores, they’ll get a certain amount of money. The current issue that we’re battling between parent and child is that, the second they get that money, they’re looking to spend it. I’m trying to teach them to delay gratification and save up for things – difficult lessons to teach an 8 and 11-year-old! But in the long run, they’ll be better off for it. 

There’s another worrisome financial topic we’re currently dealing with regarding the boys however. They’re about halfway through their 8-week summer camp program, and what Dad just found out is that there’s a reason Gates and Ridley haven’t been asking for money lately – credit! While they’re not old enough to have credit cards of course, they are old enough to charge things on Daddy’s account at the country club.

Over the last four weeks of camp, the boys have had some epic afternoons of Kit Kats and soda, Reese’s cups and vanilla nut cones, ring pops and Hershey bars, with Gatorade to wash it all down! I could go on, but you get the point. 

The end result is that each of the boys is now in hock to Mom and Dad to the tune of several hundred dollars. So, the day after you read this, summer camp in the Smyth house will suddenly become a lot less sugary, and their mother will be happy to know why they haven’t been hungry for dinner in a month. 

My hope is that many of you are getting a good chuckle out of this, but once I realized what was going on, I knew my work as a parent has only just started. Another Smyth boy situation to address. 

For the next four weeks until they go back to school, I see some great family lessons in how to wash cars, sweep, vacuum, pull weeds, and perhaps some additional spring cleaning of the house is in order. Dollar by dollar, they’ll earn it all back – and they’ll remember this when they’re reaming their own children for finding a loophole and using it for personal gain. 

Whenever situations like these occur – and they will – my reminder to you all is to use them as teaching times and life lessons for your kids and grandkids. Sometimes, what money buys is what you already have (or have eaten, in the case of my boys!). That’s a valuable lesson. 

Finally, we know this is the busy season of family vacations and summer travel. Please, as you’re relaxing and catching up with your friends & family, don’t keep us a secret. We’re never too busy for your referrals! 

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