The TV blares ad after ad with million dollar budgets to maximize sales with each commercial. The school has one project after another for parents to fund. Your children can’t get away; neither can the you.
When parents are financially responsible, advertisers and the school system work on your children to get your money. Even your child’s allowance is at risk. Anything to pry money away from you is acceptable practice. It wears you down. All the work teaching your children good money skills is wasted in the never-ending assault.
And don’t count on teachers helping you or your children either. Your kid’s teacher is broke. Without a guaranteed government pension most teachers would be homeless after retirement. Teachers can’t teach what they either don’t know or refuse to practice. Your kids will never learn money skills in school because the teachers are broke and don’t know how to handle money. Period.
The school system is the opposite of responsible spending. The school system constantly looks for additional ways to get your money. Great lessons they are teaching our kids. No wonder people work their entire life and have nothing invested for retirement.
There is hope if you look fast. Every so often I run across a teacher who handles money the way we do around here. Of course this teacher retires early, as in somewhere in their 30s usually (50s at the latest if they love working with children and the system hasn’t sucked the life out of them), and then travels the world.
When you find one of these gems, you glue your child to that teacher as long as possible. With your responsible spending and investing at home and the teacher at school sending the same message, your child will not be a slave to money. Instead, your child will use money as a tool to live a good and fulfilling life.
Parents must work hard to protect their children from these financial predators. The first step involves mom and dad only. You can’t blame the school for your behavior. The first step is simple: get rid of commercial media in your home. Kids are inundated (as are mom and dad) with thousands of commercials. Mass media is funded by these ads. The ads in turn are funded by weak minded fools.
Most mass media is geared toward getting your attention long enough to serve the advertiser’s needs. Over a third of each hour of cable and network television channels is commercials. Removing commercial TV from your home is the most important step you can take to protect you and your children from negative messages.
This one step will cut spending and desires to spend by 80% or more. Before you want something you have to know it exists first. Since mass media force feeds you what they want you to do, you avoid the whole messy process because you never play their game. Think of it this way: How many people had an undying desire for the latest smart phone in 1930? Exactly. When you are unaware of these things you never feel like you are missing anything.
Asking you (or the kiddos) to step into the Stone Age will not work. Kids will be exposed to mass media at school. Even at the gym there are TVs on every wall with all those wonderful “important messages from our sponsors.” A media detox doesn’t mean you will never be exposed to the mantra. Instead, you reduce your exposure to an absolute minimum so the effects are limited, if not eliminated.
In Step 2 you need to replace mass media with something nurturing, educational, and productive. Entertainment is a large part of our lives. With intelligent money practices, we have plenty of free time to enjoy life. Financial security allows you more time outdoors with family and friends. It is about time the kids learn to throw ball with dad again. It is about time the family enjoys a walk in the woods or park. The Accountant family likes to throw the Frisbee now and again. It is great fun and good exercise. We have plenty of laughs too.
Netflix and other commercial free forms of entertainment are good choices, but beware of product placement in movies. Also consider Caveman TV. The library and books are also good ways to pass time in a fun and productive way without constant interruptions to spend money.
Now comes the hard part. Removing most mass media from the home and replacing it with nurturing activities is easy compared to building the right mindset.
Teaching your children they have enough is hard enough without their friends and the school teaching otherwise. It gets hard when your child has been convinced they need _______ or they will be an outcast.
School creates the illusion everyone needs certain items. It is your duty to buy candy or subscriptions to fund school projects. It is your duty! And all the kid’s parents are doing it. And all the kid’s parents are struggling to pay their bills.
Then there is the competition between parents! Talk about an insane mindset. These bottom-feeding Cretans think they must keep up with everything you do and then up you one. When you don’t meet their higher level stupid spending they look down their nose at you. Their kids are better than your kids.
Replacing the attitude of the most vocal members of the community takes effort. It is worth it. Your children will be happier and healthier once you get them away from the dark side of the force.
My girls know Christmas is a time for family. There are few, if any, gifts under the tree. We decorate a huge fern we call Fronds as our Christmas tree with homemade and inherited decorations.
Mrs. Accountant and I decided against holiday gifts long ago. The girls received Christmas gifts, but were trained not to expect a haul of plastic crap from foreign nations.
As the girls got older we trained them to treat Christmas like mom and dad do. If we need anything during the year we call it our Christmas gift.
This year we updated the bikes for the girls. So they could afford a quality bike, we paid part of the cost. Merry Christmas! The girls bought a $30 fire pit this summer; the old one was really bad. Merry Christmas, mom and dad! Thank you girls. (What Mrs. Accountant and I get each other is unpublishable in a family blog such as this one.)
A Frugal Children’s Story
Back when I was in school I walked uphill both ways, in snow, even during summer.
My freshman year of high school I was in an agriculture class. I was a member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). To raise money (sound familiar), FFA sold light bulbs. I was a bit of a salesman/businessman already at that age. My first year I was the highest seller of light bulbs in school history. Since even in a rural community farmers are not always respected, I got a minor pat on the back for my efforts. I expected nothing for my efforts so it did not bother me.
My sophomore year I was in another ag class and still an active member of FFA. I decided I wanted to tackle different projects my second year so my light bulbs sales, shall we say, were light. This was no good.
I was called to the principal’s office and told it was my duty to sell as much as I possibly could. They knew talent when they saw it. However, I was unmoved. I had other ideas. You see, I figured out how to string wires around the farm in a way where I could pick up radio stations thousands of miles away. Much cooler than selling light bulbs. The principle said, “No dice.”
Rather than a simple refusal at the principle’s insistence, I used my normal logic (with colorful language (I had a way with words back then, too)) explaining how he was not going to get what he wanted. The principle rallied the troops. He called in my father. (Not dad, father. This was serious!)
I amped my response to their arrogant gesture. I told the principle, right in front of my father, where he could shove his light bulbs. My dad was disappointed in my behavior, but never said anything further about it. You see, frugality is almost always a family affair.
Needless to say I never sold a single thing for the school again. I did sell stuff and started a wholesale business on my own while in high school, but that is a story for another day. From that day forward I refused to take the school, teachers, or the principle seriously. The vast majority, and most important part, of my education came all in one day. If the school needed me to raise money so bad, who was teaching whom?
Building a Dream
Mass media, the school, the community, and even your neighbors and friends will tell you what to dream. The greatest tragedy in our society today is people living their entire lives in someone else’s dream. Only at the end do they realize they wasted the greatest gift they ever received: time. Don’t be one of these fools.
Teach your children the value of spending less than they earn. Teach your children to feel like they have enough, because they do. Teach your children to invest intelligently. Teach. If you don’t, someone else will.
You can only teach what you know. You teach best by example. Someday, your children will thank you for bestowing such an awesome gift upon them, the gift of living their own dreams.