My daughter and I always have a good time together. We have similar personalities, interests and senses of humor. She was aware of our situation as we fought to pay off over $109,000 of credit card debt, and even shared her perspective on our journey in a guest post here on Enemy of Debt. She apparently also paid close attention to how our view on money and what is important in life changed over the last few years have changed.
I found this out through a conversation we had last weekend.
We had gone to the mall to buy a birthday present for her friend. She knew exactly what she wanted to get her friend as we headed directly to a store where she had seen canvas signs with inspirational phrases she thought would be perfect for her friend. She picked out the one she liked the best, as well as some hair ribbons. Exiting the store, she was excited about what she had picked out. She made a comment regarding how it didn’t matter that her gift wasn’t very expensive, because it was a very personal gift she picked out for her friend without even asking her what she wanted for her birthday. She was glad she wasn’t, “That person,” that just gave a gift card.
I smiled, as I remember using this exact reasoning with my wife when we were shopping for holiday gifts last year.
As we were driving out of the mall parking lot, I pointed at a brand new, bright yellow Camaro in the car dealership parking lot across the street and said, “I like that car.” Without looking up from her phone she dropped this on me:
“I don’t understand why people make a big deal about cars. I’m not the kind of person that would spend a whole bunch of money on a car because all it does it get me to places I want to go.”
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to emphasize a couple of important financial concepts, I causally made a couple of points:
- I commended her for her view point on vehicles. I had her remember the excitement our family had when we purchased a new van a few months ago. Then I asked her if she was still excited about our van. She shook her head and said, “It’s still a nice van, but no, not really.” I told her to remember that the thrill of a new vehicle wears off very quickly.
- I stated that I would much rather spend my money on great experiences such as family vacations, or running marathons which create memories that will last forever. Memories last a lifetime, while things like a new car will eventually wear out. I went on to tell her that I have great memories from all three marathon’s I’ve run. Testing me a little, she asked me to tell her some of my memories from my very first marathon. Which, of course, I was able to do easily.
Driving the rest of the way home in mostly silence, I summarized to myself the different life lessons my daughter and I talked about:
- Personalized gifts mean more than expensive gifts
- Expensive cars are a waste of money because the thrill of a new car is gone quickly
- Life experiences and memories are better than material things
Those are some fairly advanced, yet important topics to be discussing with my seventh grade daughter. I hope they sink in.
How about you, EOD Nation, have YOU learned these lessons? Are you as financially savvy as a 7th grader?