In the end, kids won’t remember that fancy toy you bought them, they will remember the time you spent with them.– Kevin Heath
Before I have you blow up the comments section with quotes from Dave Ramsey, let’s just make it clear that I’m not suggesting anyone sacrifice financial responsibility.
Just don’t forget to live life and don’t forget that sometimes things we deem as non-essential to our lives are the very things that can prop us into better opportunities.
I’ve always been a relatively frugal person. I use the term “relatively” because there were certainly times in my life I’d splurge and I didn’t maintain a reclusive lifestyle void of the occasional luxury, but I appreciated the idea of my money working for me. When I got married and eventually became a dad, my money was no longer working for just me – I wanted it to work for us.
It was like a switch in my head flipped when my daughter was born and the only thing I worried about giving her was stability. My future was no longer just about me, it was our family’s future. So I started pouring money into a wedding dress fund, her education fund, and I put all of my personal hobbies and luxuries on hold to max out our investment in her future.
That’s what dad’s do right?
We wear the same tired shirts, the same old shoes, get the same budget hair cut and drive the same old car. All in the name of providing more for our children.
- I wasn’t just contributing money to an IRA so I could retire on the beach. I was setting money aside so I wouldn’t be a burden to my kids.
- I wasn’t piling money into a savings account to save up for that sweet car anymore. Now I was just making sure our family had a safety net for hardships.
- My clothing budget took a back seat to a wedding dress investment fund.
- And our family’s vacation fund was replaced with college savings.
In so many ways it was responsible and wise. I thought to myself, look at what I’m doing for my children’s future, and yet, the more I focused on what I could offer our children in the future, the less I focused on what I was offering them in the present.
Was it possible I was taking financial responsibility too far?
It would be ridiculous not to set money aside for retirement or to not set money aside for educational purposes. But was there a hidden cost to my extreme frugality?
The answer was sitting in the living room someday and having our children say “remember the summer we…”
See, the more I focused on creating self-sufficiency and enjoyment for our future, the more I neglected our enjoyment of the present. I lost all sense of financial balance. I was so caught up in building a happy future that I was forgetting there was a life to live now.
Even with financial responsibility, I think there really can be too much of a good thing. There’s a balance of financial frugality that has to be mixed with giving ourselves a purpose to enjoy life today – for our kids to be able to enjoy life today.
Every time I’d think about spoiling ourselves, I let a mindset creep in and defer that enjoyment to a future date under the guise that what I could afford would be even better.
A few times, I had tinkered with the idea of someday buying a boat. How awesome would it be to enjoy Sundays on the water as a family? And so summer would approach and I’d look at those boats at the dealer and think “if I just wait one more year, I can buy a better boat”.
Another year would pass and the same thought would cross my mind and the same excuse of frugality would creep in. Summer would pass without a boat and only a greedy savings accounts to show for it – #1stWorldProblems.
You know what, at some point, you just have to buy the damn boat.
- Take the fucking vacation your family has been putting off for years.
- Send your wife those $50 roses with a “Just Because” card.
- Splurge on that pair of shoes your kiddo doesn’t need, but that puts a smile on their face when the heels light up
- Go visit that restaurant you’ve been dying to try.
- Order the fucking desert.
- Take your wife on that better late than never Honeymoon you promised but couldn’t afford so many years ago.
- You know what, fuck that $350 contribution just this month to your HSA and do that thing your family has been dreaming of doing for years.
Don’t be stupid and financially irresponsible but stop collaring the memories that are possible out of greed.
Live Life To The Fullest
See, I was a penny pincher with everything. What I wasn’t realizing is that my objective of avoiding materialism I had simply replaced it with something equally troubling – greed. The more I put off buying the very things I was planning to save up for me, the more I was just saving for the sake of watching my accounts grow.
In my head, it seemed like this was the smart decision, but so is passing along something to your children that isn’t just a number on a check. Listen, children will appreciate an inheritance of cash. There’s no denying that, but are they also inheriting memories of an amazing childhood.
Does your daughter have fond memories of you taking her on weekly daddy dates?
Does your son remember the year you went to see your favorite football team?
Again, I’m not suggesting to be stupid with your money. Don’t buy what you absolutely can’t afford and don’t take this as some sort of rant in support of materialism – it isn’t. I just think if you’ve got your financial ducks in a row, enjoy life and give your kids some memories.
Take what the financial gurus say to heart, learn it and remember it. Think over every purchase, but don’t forget to add weight to that consideration of a value that isn’t monetary. No, you don’t need that cup of coffee from Starbucks every day, no you don’t need to take a vacation that costs $5000 every single year, and I’m not saying you need (or should at all) be maxing out credit cards or anything of that nature. All I’m saying is don’t forget that there is more to life than strictly our financial well being.
Memories are so much greater than money. You cannot take that checking account to your grave and you can be financially responsible without being a Scrooge.
I was a Scrooge and my focus on our financial well being left my family emotionally broke.
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