I remember the first time I saw my father use an ATM or automated teller machine. I can still remember the name of the bank my parents used and picture the whole ATM setup in my mind – right down to the now-ancient looking digital numbers on the screen. I was quite inquisitive about how a machine could spit out cash. I mean, how much cash must have been in that metal and plastic box? Or did it print the money on the spot? Was there a tube leading from the bank vault that kept the ATM loaded with cash? Why was there a $200 withdrawal limit? Why were ATM bills so crisp? What if I watched closely and figured out my dad’s pin number?
In today’s busy and hurried society, we want everything now. Think about some of the “instant” things we have in life.
On-demand TV programming. 30-minute 30-second meals. Instant messengers. Drive-thru options for just about any store (because who wants to get out of their car for anything?!). The list goes on and on.
We want what we want, and we want it now.
Welcome to America.
But if we were to go through each of our closets, dig under our beds, or browse around our attics, we would find plenty of items that would fall into the category: “I just had to have it.”
We have read short-story books to our children since they were able to sit still, but lately we have been sharing longer books with our daughters in the evenings. We are reading a chapter a day from the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and our five year old and six year old are currently enjoying Farmer Boy. Laura Ingalls Wilder books are certainly not cutting edge fiction or drama, but they have a charm that winds up being a good way to end the day. The stories are from a simpler time when all one had on which to depend was family, neighbors, God, and the ability to work, work, work. The accounts of the amount of labor required just to make a meal, much less run a farm is nothing short of amazing. The Wilders farmed in upstate New York in the 1850′s and everyone in the family worked long hours from the earliest age. The story is set when Almanzo (Laura Ingall’s future husband) was nine years old.
Saturday is trash day. Since we live in rural area, we don’t have trash service and thus an hour or so on Saturday morning is spent collecting the trash and recyclables, loading them into my Expedition and taking them down to the remote trash drop off facility. I generally bring my older boys since they are a little stronger.
What started off as a chore has actually turned into a fun time where we can talk and spend some quality time together. We discuss all kinds of things, and ironically enough, I’ve actually started looking forward to Saturday morning trash runs.
Now that Christmas is over many people’s homes are full of stuff. My guess is that 80% of that stuff isn’t even used and Christmas added even more items to the stuff pile. As the old saying goes, maybe it’s time for “out with the old and in with the new.”
Out with the old, in with the new
One of the traditions my wife and I started shortly after our oldest son turned 3 or so was to take toys and clothing that were no longer used, bag them up and give them to various charities after Christmas. We continued to do this as we added more children to our family and even adopted this policy for ourselves.
My teenage son came home the other day. He told his Mom and me that he needed some precooked pasta, zip lock bags, bread and some butter. “Huh? What do you need that for? Are you going to cook dinner??” we asked snickering a little. He calmly replied, “Yes for the homeless shelter downtown on Wednesday night.” We stopped snickering.
He told us that he volunteered with some other students from his school to prepare dinner at our local homeless shelter. We weren’t surprised, he always has been one to help others and wants to make a positive difference in people’s lives. He’s a natural leader and it shows in everything he does. I thought I’d share his story and the 3 lessons that him, my wife and I learned through his volunteer effort.
Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Note from Glblguy: While the title of this article is Christian teen budgeting due to the Biblical references and emphasis on tithing, the majority of the concepts apply regardless of whether you are a Christian or not.
Budgeting along with spending less than you earn (i.e. following your budget) to me is one of the most important financial lessons you can teach your teenager. As your children enter the teen years, the the lure of electronic gadgets, name brand clothing, and expensive cars will begin to take their money.
I’ve learned a great about personal finance over the years. Much of it through writing here on Gather Little by Little, reading other personal finance blogs, and reading books. Unfortunately, the majority of it I’ve learned the hard way, by making mistakes and suffering the consequences.
In order to try and keep our children from having to learn the hard way, my wife and I have been sharing information about our finances and trying to teach them responsible money management. This is particularly true of my oldest son as he has now entered his teen years (he’s 13).
My 13 year old son spent a day with my Dad last week. My Dad loves cars and my son has become more and more interested in them as he’s gotten closer to driving age. The type of car he wants t has changed overtime, but his latest “obsession” is with Jeeps. He wants one of the new Wrangler Unlimited models (the 4-door Jeep). Since going to he Jeep dealership with my Dad, all I’ve heard is “I so want a Jeep”.
Photo by: law_keven
The following is a guest post by Cameron C. Taylor, author of the book Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom