Wednesday, May 29, 2013
"Don't Spend It All in One Place" - Wisdom Wednesday
I remember my dad putting the coins in my hand with the accompanying admonition: "Don't spend it all in one place." Hmmm. To my child-mind that meant I should spread the purchases around and buy several different items in different places, not just one large thing in one store. I took him at his word and, consequently, had many little items to show (or eat) as a result of my shopping efforts.
It wasn't until years later that I understood the humor in my dad's admonition: it was so little money that it would be hard not to spend it all in one place. Except that child-size desires could be purchased for very little money in those days.
My parents were frugal: they'd lived and survived through the Great Depression, coming out the other side with no or minimal debt and the ability to make do with very little. They raised their children with the attitude and ability to scrimp and save though not necessarily with the desire to do so, especially in the case of their younger daughter (me). It took some years for the message of saving instead of spending to sink in. I think their attitude reflected the fact that one never knows what the next problem or expense will be; therefore, it's better to save and be prepared than have too little or no money when there's a need. I know my parents thought they were teaching us about saving but the lesson I learned felt more like deprivation. I think that's partially because they didn't talk about why they were saving; about how to choose a purchase based on desire as well as need and price; or about budgeting money.
I don't know that I did much better with my daughters. One daughter wanted most things she saw, the other never asked for anything. While walking the aisles of the grocery store, I was often heard saying, "We don't have money for that." Somehow (Did I say it? Did my husband say it?) my daughters finally came to understand that the purchase was refused not because we didn't have the money to buy it but because we chose not to spend the money we did have on that particular item. They have grown to adults who judiciously choose their purchases based on desire, need, quality, and funds available. They are careful shoppers and consumers.
Youth is so immediate and perhaps saving is a hard lesson for most children to learn. Thinking back, though, I wish my father would have said, "Save a little and spend wisely," and then explained it all to me -- over and over again -- until I understood. Now that I'm older I'm thankful for my parents' example. I eventually understood.