Financial Lessons for the Kid in All of Us

While gathering my things after a workout in the locker room of my health club, I noticed a little boy about 3 years old wanting to go look at the scale.  Each time he wandered towards the scale, his dad would grab the boy and guide him back to the locker area. The man instructed the boy to stay by him as he finished getting dressed after swimming.

The boy would stand near his father for a few seconds, then start walking back towards the scale. The father would again grab him, indicating that the boy could see the scale when he was done getting dressed. This repeated itself several times, each time the boy becoming more insistent that he wanted to see the scale, each time his dad becoming more firm that he stay next to him.

Finally, the threat of not getting ice cream came into play, but the boy headed out once again towards the scale. Dragged back one last time, he was told no ice cream.

The boy instantly threw himself onto the ground in a tantrum for a few seconds, then stopped, and sat on a bench quietly.  A few moments later, forgetting all about the scale, the boy headed towards a group of sinks. The exact scenario was playing out again as I left the locker room.

As I walked through the parking lot to my car, I was thinking about how I was glad that my kids had grown old enough to generally obey me when it came to such simple directions (although with age comes a whole different genre of problems).  It also occurred to me that when it came to my finances, I had acted exactly like that three year old for many years.

Like the young boy, I would see something I wanted.  Had I exercised patience, and saved my money I could have certainly purchased the item eventually. Instead, I determined that waiting was unacceptable and purchased the item with credit.

The bill would come a few weeks later, and I’d promise myself  that was the last thing I’d purchase with a credit card.  But it didn’t take long before temptation gave in.

Also, much like the child, my memory was short.  The object of my desire that at the time I just HAD to have, faded in importance quickly. So many items bought with credit quickly ended up unused in the garage, or tucked away in a cupboard or closet.

 On to the next “thing.”

The boy may, or may not have learned his lesson by being denied ice cream that day. Perhaps it would take him several more incidents before he learned to listen to his father’s instructions, but the point is, eventually the boy will grow up and learn that people in authority are meant to be respected and obeyed.

Like the young boy, eventually I too must grow up…..financially. It took something being taken away from me, much like our young man in the story, for me to alter my behavior.  Being on the edge of disaster and having my financial freedom taken away from me has taught the consequences of my actions.

If I can successfully learn my lesson, practice good financial habits, and complete my debt management program I can taste the sweet ice cream of being debt free forever.

How about you? Are you acting your age financially?

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18 Responses to “Financial Lessons for the Kid in All of Us”

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  1. I can proudly say that I am! Took me a while and some rough roads to get where I am today, but I am acting my age financially 🙂

    At age 27, I wish I had found this out much sooner!

  2. Brad Chaffee says:

    One of my favorite sayings on this topic comes from Dave Ramsey. In fact, I even have a bumper sticker on my car from Dave’s store that says “ACT YOUR WAGE” next to my Enemy of Debt sticker. 🙂

    We all have it in us to act like children when it comes to the things we want. I’ve certainly had my share of temper tantrums when I wanted to buy something. Thankfully those days are over but every now and then the kid in me pops back up. 😀

  3. I have to say that this is an area I’ve never had trouble with. Luckily for me, I’m not that interested in material things. My ex, however, was/ is. I noticed pretty early in our relationship that he would want something and then as soon as he got it he would want the next thing. It wasn’t like “Oh, I really want this gadget” and then he would be happy… No. He wanted that gadget until he had it, and then he wanted the next thing. So I started putting him off, trying to make him wait as long as possible for the thing. Because I realized it just didn’t matter. He was always asking for something, it saved us money to prolong the purchases.

    Any guesses as to why we broke up? haha.

  4. I think I’m acting my financial age pretty well. We’ve saved for our retirement & now we are enjoying it, debt-free and within our means. I learned that I had to spend less in some areas to spend a little more in other areas. I just couldn’t spend all I wanted to in every area! After a while I realized what my priorities were. It was a lot easier after that!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Congratulations Maggie! It sounds to me like you are in the drivers seat and doing well! There’s nothing like being able to live your life without worrying about paying a ton of minimum payments each and every month. I do not know how in the world we managed to live like that for so long. It was so draining! 😀 Thanks for your awesome comment!

    • Hi Maggie, thanks for your comment! Somehow I knew that you would be someone that would say they were acting their financial age. Your blog is full of advice and tips that work – I always feel “grounded” after visiting your site – as in the “I’m doing the right thing” way…not the “I’m in trouble and need punishment” way. Just thought I’d better clarify. 🙂

  5. Funancials says:

    Financially I’m well beyond my years. Mentally I’m still an idiot. I still laugh when people say “walk on the balls of your feet.”

  6. Kathy says:

    Welllllll…..I’m trying. I did stop using ALL credit cards for purchases. I just paid off one card (woot!) and have 4 more to go.

    It’s been very difficult for me to ‘save’ for a purchase when I’ve been accustomed to buying on a whim for 20+ years. However, I am learning that by having to save, what I thought were ‘needs’ are actually ‘wants’ in some cases.

    One things that is really working for me (started a couple of years ago) is that I demonstrate rubber stamping (cards/gifts/etc) for Stampin’ Up! and I ONLY use the money I get from my sales to go towards purchasing more supplies. I do not use money from my full time job and it’s caused me to scale waaaay back and focus on needs vs. wants there too. I know, I know…you’re probably saying that it’s all ‘want’, however, I actually ‘need’ to buy certain items (cardstock, ribbon, embellishments, etc) in order to have classes & demonstrations.
    Anyways, it’s been working really well for me.

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