Motivation: Do it for the Kids

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One of the hardest things, for us,  about choosing to stop spending and get out of debt is the impact it has had on our children.  We’ ve eliminated about 95% of our activities, entertainment and field trips.  Unless we find a ridiculously good deal, clothes are purchased on a need-only basis.

We often feel as if we are short-changing our children, and it’s tempting to convince ourselves that the things they want and the things we want for them are needs instead of wants.  We don’t want them to feel deprived because of our mess.

But the fact of the matter is that if we don’t clean things up now, we may never be able to give them what they want OR what they need.

In fact, if we don’t get our finances in order, we could put the children in a situation where they will need to support us, and that’s just not acceptable to us.  So we are choosing to make the sacrifices now.

In order to keep us motivated, I decided to conduct interviews with each of our 4 children (ages 13, 9, 8, and 6) yesterday regarding our financial situation and our new commitment to get out of debt.  We’re pretty open in our family, sometimes blatantly honest to a fault.  Tell it like it is, that’s our motto, with each other, anyway.  We’re a bit more gentle and tactful with those outside of our immediate family :-).   So I knew I would get honest answers from the kids, and I had prepared myself emotionally for that.  Here’s what the kids had to say:

Question 1: How do you feel about our debt freedom plan?

Kid #1 – “I’m glad that we’re finally getting out of debt.”

Kid #2 – “Sometimes I think it’ll take a long time, and I feel disappointed.”

Kid #3 – “I’m happy about it because we’ll be able to do more stuff afterward.”

Kid #4 – “I’m excited.  No more worrying about money.”

Question 2: How do you feel about the fact that we (your parents) got into this debt mess in the first place?

Kid #1 – “What’s done is done.  There’s no use in being angry about it.”

Kid #2 – “I’m not mad because I feel like it’s easy to be deceived about the dangers of using credit.”

Kid #3 – “I feel sad that we can’t do the stuff we want to do.”

Kid #4 “I’m kind of mad, because it’s going to take a long time to get it paid off.”

Question 3: What’s the hardest thing about our newly reformed spending habits?

Kid #1 – “It’s stressful having so many limits on what we can and can’t do.”

Kid #2 – “Not really being able to do stuff now is hard, and not getting our annual raise in our allowance was hard too.”

Kid #3 – “That we can’t go places we really want to go anymore.”

Kid #4 – “I like that we’re not spending money, because it means we’re getting out of debt.”

Question 4: What will be the best part about being debt free?

Kid #1 – “The financial peace we’ll have and the freedom we’ll have to do the things we enjoy.”

Kid #2 – “We’ll be able to do fun things again.”

Kid #3 – “Then we’ll be able to go to the places we want to go and not have to worry about money anymore.”

Kid #4 – “Being able to eat out more and buy more things.”

Being in debt affects many different areas of your life.  It diminishes your freedom in so many ways: it tells you where you can live, whether or not you can go on vacation, eat out or when/if you can buy clothing.  It affects whether or not you can change jobs, or start your own business.  It affects your ability to help others.  Of course, you can ignore your debt and spend the money anyway, but that will only make the problem worse.  If a person chooses to stay on a path of spending more than they earn, the gravy train will eventually run out of track.  The credit card limits will be reached, companies will stop offering you credit, or you simply won’t be able to keep up with the minimum payments, and the cards will get closed down for you.

Moms and Dads, I plead with you: if you’re deep in debt, please, for the sake of your children and their future, choose to take your head out of the sand.  Think about what you want to do for your children not just now, but when they’re adults.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to help pay for their college, gift them a large down payment on their first house, or take your children and grandchildren on a huge family vacation each year?

Now is the time to change your family tree, (affiliate link) for the sake of your children and grandchildren.  Choose today to pass down a legacy of financial stability instead of a legacy of debt and financial burden.  Let today be the day you say “No more” to financial bondage.

 

12 comments

  1. “The financial peace we’ll have and the freedom we’ll have to do the things we enjoy.” From the mouths of babes, huh Laurie? 🙂 Great post! I admire your involving your children in this as many would not and just sweep it under the carpet. Kids are like sponges and the lessons you’re teaching them through this will be invaluable for their long term growth.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much John, for your words of encouragement. Being open and accountable to them has really helped us own up to our debt and motivated us to get out. We SO don’t want them to repeat our mistakes, and we’re hoping that by us being honest about the mess we’re in, they’ll make a commitment in their own lives to be financially responsible.

  2. Laurie, I don’t buy it. I cannot believe that those answers came from children that are 13, 9, 8, and 6 years old. 🙂

    Their answers are so incredibly wise and supportive for your whole family. I love that you took the time to share your talk with them on your blog. Yes you are unfortunately going through a tough time, but look at what a huge growth and learning experience it is for them. As you mentioned in one of your posts the other day, it is amazing what children can teach us. And based on my personal situation and the thoughts I have everyday about all this crappy debt, their answers have helped me so much too. Have a great weekend!!

    • Laurie says:

      Sicorra, thank you so much. Yes, they are such a blessing to us: they help us to stay on this track, you know? Debt free soon, for both of our families, Sicorra. It’ll come. You have a wonderful weekend too!

  3. I had tears in my eyes when I read this post. You have such wonderful children Laurie.

    I don’t have children yet, but I do know that when the time comes I want to have the right financial situation. And that means paying off this debt first 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you so much, Girl. You will be worlds ahead of us and SO glad you are debt free when you have your babies – kids are the best! 🙂

  4. I love this post and applaud you for getting out of debt and being upfront with your kids. As a financial advisor I see so many parents bend over backwards to make sure they kids never feel deprived and have the best life possible BUT don’t teach them about money. We all know how that story ends! You are going to be able to give your kids a better life because you got out of debt and most importantly – you’re helping them understand how money works in all its glory and ugliness, which is the best gift of all.

    • Laurie says:

      Shannon, I SO appreciate your encouragement. You’re right: it’s tempting to spend our money in a way that the kids don’t feel deprived, but the thought of giving them the impression that they should have whatever they want, which will likely lead them to make the same financial mistakes we did, scares us to the point that we’d rather teach them to live without now so that they’ve been taught the disciplines of avoiding instant gratification, you know? Our responsibility as parents is to do the best for our kids, not to give the best to our kids.

  5. Kids are so smart and so perceptive (even when you think they are far to young to understand things). Parents really do have a huge hand in helping their kids learn about finances and good financial decisions. Good for you for being honest with them and teaching them those important life lessons about money.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks KK. I really appreciate your uplifting words. It helps us to stay on our journey, even when it’s daunting to be at the bottom of the mountain and looking up to the top.

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