My son looked at me like he didn’t believe what he was hearing. He believed that his parents have an unlimited source of money.
My son has been saving his allowance as well as the money he’s earned mowing lawn this summer to get his own computer, and has amassed a pretty good chunk of coin. We had planned on a building a computer together as I thought it would be a cool father and son activity plus save us some money by assembling the computer ourselves. However, recently he found a pre-built computer online that had the required specs, and was on sale for a very reasonable price.
It’s hard to say, “No,” when the kid does his research.
The problem was, he didn’t have enough money. He asked if I could advance him some money to buy the computer while it was on sale. I apologized, but told him I couldn’t due to expenses we had in the next few weeks associated with the start of a new school year. There’s also this situation of me being furloughed for a week in September that has Vonnie and I doing a bit of a financial scramble.
I could tell he didn’t like my answer. His body language, and his tone of voice was borderline disrespectful. He showed me the regular price of the computer, telling me that if he didn’t get it soon he would have to save up even more money. I reminded him of some games he purchased during the last few months and hinted that had he not bought them, he could have had enough to purchase the computer.
Our conversation ended with him being extremely unhappy. I don’t think he understands that even though his parents are adults, we don’t have a limitless supply of money.
It reminded me of a childhood grocery shopping trip with my mom. I wanted her to buy name brand potato chips, and instead she plopped a bag of the store brand in the cart. How embarrassing, thought the pre-teen version of me. For the rest of the time we made our way through the grocery store isles I gave her an earful for daring to try to save what I thought was an insignificant amount of money.
I’ve thought of that grocery shopping trip often over the last four years as my perspective on money has changed. I’ve even apologized to her for that embarrassing childhood memory.
It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you’re the one paying the bills.
I wonder if my son will look back at his behavior in a similar way. I wonder if one day when he is an adult trying to handle the finances of a family he will have a similar experience and think of how he acted, and realize how his perspective on money has changed.
Do you have a childhood memory that you’d like a “do over” on now that you’re perspective on money has changed?