Most of us navigate parenthood as best we can, trying to give our children the happiest childhood possible. The best opportunities, the sweetest memories and we certainly don’t want them to feel left out or want for anything. By giving so much, are we really hurting them more than helping? Last night, I implemented a “spending ban” in our household and this is why.
I had my oldest at 18. I was married, but we were so young and money was beyond tight. Up until a few years ago, I had been known to budget our yearly existence on sometimes less than $20,000 a year. Because of this, the boys often went without the best material things that other kids around them had. We didn’t get to go out places often and our trip to Disney World each year was our main splurge. The boys genuinely appreciated getting to go out somewhere or getting something new, because it was a rarity.
When the money became more plentiful and income more than doubled, we started doing more. I wanted to reward the boys for the years they had gone without. What I didn’t realize, is that they were coming to expect these things. Instead of being looked at as privileges, they were seen as expected weekend adventures.
Last night, we went to the Fun Station here in town after eating at a local restaurant. I paid for the boys to do mini golf and gem mining as well as to have a $10 card each for games inside. Instead of hearing children enjoy themselves and say thank-you. I hear “Why can’t we do laser tag.?” “I want to ride go-karts.” and so on. It was at that moment that I realized my boys had begun to get spoiled or at the very least, take for granted the things they get on a regular basis.
Now, I don’t buy my boys tons of expensive toys, as far as material things go, they probably still have less than a lot of children. Our spending focuses more on family experiences and things of that nature. The boys also know about sharing and giving and I have made it a point to make them aware that some kids don’t have anything at all. I just don’t care for the “we want,” “can we go,” and general never satisfied path of conversations lately when we are out doing something that I paid a lot for.
So, from this morning until the end of the month, we will not be spending any money on entertainment things, No little toys for behaving well, no eating out or anything else. We can still do plenty of things as a family, but by being creative and using our imaginations instead of our wallets. I also plan to make arrangements to have the boys and I go volunteer somewhere next weekend and would like to make it a regular activity as summer approaches.
What do you think? Could your house use a spending ban too?