As I bask in the celebration of our recent 40th Wedding Anniversary, complete with surprise readings from each child, child in-law and grandchild, I can see some great personal finance applications of the principles Jan and I used raising our four children.
My quandary is that in order to share the financial lessons, I am obligated to share what our kids had to say in their readings. I therefore ask myself, “Is this more about boasting on what great kids we have or helping my readers with their finances?” I will let you be the judge.
First, from our grandchildren (ages 8 and 10): Readings followed by applications.
- “I love you because you teach us to sew.”
Application: One can’t learn too many skills in life.
- “I love you because you take us to yard sales.”
Application: Know how to handle money and where to find bargains.
- “I love you for starting new traditions with us.”
Application: Never quit learning.
And now, from our children (ages 31 through 37) Readings followed by applications.
- “You have always let me be me and have taught me to only worry about the important things. To glorify God and love one another is the most important thing that you have instilled in me and I pray that I will be able to teach that to my children.”
- “Your willingness to not only allow us to be who we are, but to encourage it has made us who we are today.”
Application: Successful people know themselves, know their abilities, know their passions and know the God who gives them all.
- “I often find myself thinking, ‘OK, OK, what would Mom and Dad have done in this situation?’ My mind often goes back to the instruction, guidance, discipline and encouragement that was ever present in our lives growing up.”
Application: Realize that you are not the first person who struggled with a budget, with debt, with credit card payments or with planning for retirement. Seek out someone you trust who will mentor you.
- “The triangle dinner bell. Haha. Thank you for the lessons that bell taught us! Rules, guidelines, boundaries and trust. It’s funny but knowing that you trusted us to stay close enough to hear it is kind of remarkable as I look back on it. But – you also set rules with consequences if we were too far to not be at the dinner table in 5 minutes after the bell sounded – NO DINNER!”
Note: the rule is that if the kids were so far from home that they couldn’t hear the dinner bell, they were too far. If they weren’t in their seats with their hands washed within five minutes after the bell rang, they did not eat.
Application: Life has consequences. If you don’t make your car payment, the repo man will come get your car. If you don’t make your house payment, the bank will foreclose.
- “Thank you for loving us and giving us great lives with amazing experiences and encouraging us to explore the very opportunities that would lead us to the careers that would make us happy, not rich.”
Application: Instead of following the dollar, seek ways to make a career of what you love to do. True happiness is more than a big bank account. And who knows? The big bank account could come along anyway.
- “I think of all the times I used to curse you for the way you chose to raise me. I always wanted to be able to be like my friends – do the things they got to do, stay out late, drive new cars, sleep in on Sundays, eat dinner in the living room. The list could go on and on. It’s funny how I used to envy such things, realizing now that you guys knew all along exactly what you were doing. Building our faith in God, teaching the importance of family values, how to love, how to sacrifice, and being the Christ like people we need to be.”
Application: Do what is right, not what is expedient. Think of your finances as a marathon, not a 50 yard dash. If you do the right things (avoid debt, save, invest, etc) over a long period of time, you will win with money and life.
“I finally understand the comment of ‘This hurts me worse than it hurts you’, and that gi-normous paddle was more than just a stinging in the rear end. It was a sign of your unconditional love and desire for your children to know right from wrong.”
Application: Expect tough times. Your financial life is not a straight line progression. People will lose jobs. The stock market will tank. How you respond to the toughest times in your life will define your future success.
What have I learned? If you keep doing the little things consistently over a long period of time, financial and personal success will find you.