Frugal Parenting: More On The Frustrating Subject of Chores

It may sound counterintuitive, but even if you are consistent with inconsistent methods of giving out allowances for chores, somehow kids get the right messages when it comes to money and teamwork.

Make a Wish event at Beardsley Zoo 2012
My daughter volunteered at a Make-a-Wish event in 2012. She aced the job, handling dozens of families at a time at her popular table. She even told me to go do something else because she had it covered! And, she was as calm and controlled as a cucumber.

Reading Aimee’s post, I wished I had adopted the chore wheel early on. Continue reading “Frugal Parenting: More On The Frustrating Subject of Chores”

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Quotable Quotes for Sustainable Serenity 9.2.12

Maybe you are like me and, when you were 10, you routinely read your parents’ copy of Reader’s Digest.  My favorite page was “Quotable Quotes.”  Perhaps this is where I got my inspiration to start a chapbook of quotes and words of wisdom to help guide me to best overcome the adversity of life with grace and determination.  Continue reading “Quotable Quotes for Sustainable Serenity 9.2.12”

Redefining Success: How Living in a Town of Entitled Families Fuels My Desire to Give My Kids a Better Work Ethic

Teaching kids life and work skills isn’t easy in this age of the enabling parent. I’m reading one new and excellent book, “Cleaning House:  A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement,” because I refuse to raise helpless and entitled kids.  Continue reading “Redefining Success: How Living in a Town of Entitled Families Fuels My Desire to Give My Kids a Better Work Ethic”

A Worthwhile Reality Show: CT Financial Reality Fairs for Teens

I watch my middle-schoolers budget their tiny bits of money–one is saving up for an iPad, the other just bought a used bike with his money. My daughter, who is saving up for an iPad, had to be enlightened about a few things like the tax on the item, the 1-year replacement program (must have for teens), and of course there’s the cover for the iPad. All in all, it went well over the $399 she thought she’d have to shell out. I am hoping that the CT Financial Reality Fair for Teens reaches the area’s middle schools one day!  Continue reading “A Worthwhile Reality Show: CT Financial Reality Fairs for Teens”

But Mom, Everyone Has an iTouch! When Your Kid Is The Only One Without the Newest, Greatest Gadget

iTouch fund
Our iTouch fund. We’re trying to teach our kids that they need to save up for technology. But…it’s tough in our affluent community.

TFF takes a brutal look at the consequences of giving young children the luxury of owning expensive technology. 

The other day, my son came home and announced that his fifth grade class voted to have a “Bring in Your Electronics Day” at school. My son doesn’t have fancy “electronics.” And if he did, do you think we’d let him bring in an expensive toy to school?

Evidently, other parents don’t have this problem. A couple of kids routinely bring in iPads to their fifth grade classrooms. Most of my son’s classmates came back from Christmas vacation with an iTouch in hand to show off during morning meeting. (Evidently, getting a new, shiny bike doesn’t cut it anymore for a Christmas gift.) One of my son’s best friends even insulted him for not having an iTouch (“You’re like the only one in our class, dude, who doesn’t have one.”) Ouch.

My question is why do little kids need an iTouch, iPad, or iPhone? My son even told me one of his classmates broke her iTouch the same day she got it. Of course! But the parents ran right out and replaced it. This is not how I grew up. We saved, we waited, and we lived without like most families. Today, parents and children alike expect and demand the best right away, and they usually get it no matter what the consequences.

I can’t wait to see the adult versions of all these kids who get the latest, greatest gadgets now.  They’ll only be frustrated and angry adults who can’t imagine not having what they want when they want it. I will spare you the links to the enormous body of research over the years that proves this point. But that’s what giving your kid an expensive item like an  iTouch at an early age will do to them. Yes, I know everyone’s “reason” for giving their kid an i-anything. “My kid has to keep up with technology.” Maybe what you really mean is that your kid has to keep up with the Joneses.

We are trying really hard to teach our kids to save up for expensive purchases like this. As you can see, we have a family iTouch fund that is just about complete. One of my son’s friends did just this–he sold off his old technology to make the money to buy his iTouch. Maybe it’s old-fashioned to have a fund where you actually don’t have to put a toy like this on a credit card, but it’s the type of value we want to teach our kids. By time we get this iTouch, much less figure out how to use it, a newer, better version will no doubt be out on the market. And, our son will feel left behind. When will this insanity end?

As you might have guessed, we talked to my son’s teacher and the principal about this proposed “Bring in Your Electronics Day” at school. They agreed with us and the idea was nixed. We told them we failed to see how it could be a teaching moment when kids with technology would be bullying kids without.

We don’t deny our kids technology–when it’s appropriate. My daughter has a basic cell phone out of necessity now that she’s in middle school, and my son has the luxury of a gaming console and use of the computer. They each had a Nintendo DS till one broke and the other is gathering dust. No one is suffering in our house. But…I know this for sure–my kids won’t be the ones suffering when they are adults and surrounded by entitled, whining friends who have learned to value expensive things on-demand over the warmth and joy of people and experiences.

One year later: The iTouch is used by all, no one argues over it (well, there were a couple of times…), we share apps, in general, it’s truly the “family iTouch” and no one has suffered. Plus, it’s still in great shape because we never, ever, ever let the kids take it to school. Now, my daughter is saving up her own babysitting money to get her own iPad. That’s another post…