Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards. – Robert Orben
To feed our insatiable consumerism, many of us turn to credit cards. Unfortunately, this cash substitute has lead to massive consumer debt and has contributed to our current economic crisis. Total consumer debt grew nearly five times from 1980 ($355 billion) to 2001 ($1.7 trillion). In 2008 it was $2.6 trillion.
America we have a problem.
It saddens me whenever I see a family driven to financial ruin because one or both parents could not control their spending.
When I was a child, my mother taught us the value of saving. Instead of using credit cards for daily purchases, she placed items on lay away paying small amounts until the item was paid in full. Each January, she started a Christmas savings account to make holiday purchases. She also managed to give a tithe to the church every week. The only time she used a credit card was when she needed to rent a car and she always paid cash when she returned the car.
I got my first credit card after I graduated from college. I was thrilled by my new purchasing power. The possibilities were endless – new stereo, CDs, clothes, computer. I couldn’t wait to flex my credit muscles. When my mother discovered my card, she made it clear to me that my bills were my responsibility and that she would not give me a financial bailout if I used the card irresponsibly. I took her words to heart decided against my spending spree. Her voice still lurks in my head whenever I use my credit card. I monitor my spending to make sure that I can pay my bill in full every month.
Parents (dads in particular), it is up to us to teach our children to have to proper respect for money and credit and to keep these things in the proper perspective. We have to show them that they don’t have to buy things to make themselves feel better or to one-up their friends and neighbors. Notice how said show them and not tell them. Children learn from our examples. If we are slaves to credit cards, our kids will most likely be slaves also.
Because of the state of the economy, we all have to tighten our belts a bit. We are all learning that we can live without all of the things that we thought we needed to make us happy. Take the time to teach your children lessons in simplicity and frugality. If you do, they will honor you with a legacy of financial security. More importantly, they won’t ask you for money when they’re adults.
Question: What lessons did your parents teach you about money?