Many years ago, I sat on the floor in the hallway outside my parents’ bedroom. Right across from me sat my mama at her desk writing, making strange sounds on this thing called a “ten-key”, and going through a stack of papers.
I had no idea what my mama was doing but I remember thinking that it must be something important because it had my mama’s full attention before the cry of a newborn baby boy broke her concentration – my brother has always been the favorite. 😉
It would be a few years before I finally asked my mama what she was doing every time I saw her at her desk, crunching numbers and jotting things down. But I’ll never forget when I first heard the word “budget” – that’s what my mama was always doing – this thing called a budget.
I had no idea what it was, but it was something important. My mama treated this weekly event like she did her coupons at the grocery store – carefully and diligently. So, all I knew way back then was that this was something grown-ups did.
Fast forward, a few years and I found myself a preteen with acne galore and a mama that insisted upon me learning how to write a check and balance a checkbook before she would even consider allowing me to open up a checking account of my own when I turned 16.
Therefore, I spent many, many, many days, weeks and what felt like lifetimes using this fake bank system that my mama got out of a catalog writing checks to her, the “bank” so I could cash out my allowance money that week. And then I’d have to write her a check anytime she paid for something – like my flute lessons or when I would compete in the Foreign Language Forum. She even made me reconcile this fake bank account!
I hated every second of that purple ugly, fake checkbook banking system, but then came the day – the long awaited day for me. The day my mama finally let me get my own checking account. I had had a job for all of about a week and was ready to earn the right to buy a car and the checking account was the gateway for me.
My first car…well, truck. 🙂
Of course, I was 16 and had no real expenses but hey, I had a checking account so that meant I could pay for gas and then eventually a cell phone. Then one day, I turned 18, moved out, got an apartment, and thought I knew everything about life.
Before I knew it, I was 21 years old and broke. I felt like a complete failure because I knew better. I was ashamed of how things turned out and it was all my fault. Sure, I tried to blame everyone and their grandmama for my mistakes, but the truth was it was my mistakes and I did know better.
At that low point in my life, I realized I could either just sit and wait for that huge storm to come hit me in the face or I could charge full force into the storm, prepared to take it on instead of reacting to it. And that’s what I did, by sitting down and making one of those silly budget things I saw my mama making back when I was 3 years old.
Now, here I am, close to my 30th birthday, still living life by a budget and I’m totally okay with that. My boys see me sitting at our dining room table with my phone’s calculator, my notebook, and my laptop as I go over the budget each week. The boys even see their mama pull out cash at the bank for that week’s expenses. And any time they ask me “why”, the answer always is – “because it’s part of the budget”.
More is caught than taught.
Parents, you set the example for your kids just like my mama did for me. Sure, I was rebellious and did not take my mama’s advice, but her lessons and the foundation she gave me by leading me by example is why I knew what to do the moment I found myself in deep trouble. Give your kids this important lesson by leading by example by living your life by a budget.
Your kids will be grateful you did one day. 🙂 And if you need more help teaching your kids about money, I can’t recommend the book, Smart Money Smart Kids enough!
What is one way that you’re teaching your kids how to budget their money?
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