Wednesday, November 23, 2011

managing finances for all

My 7-year old daughter opened up a money market account yesterday.  She eagerly takes on any opportunity to earn money.  She exhibits unsurpassed self-control (and has for over two years now) when it comes to spending her money - even just a nickle.  It is impressive.  Especially because her older brother cannot bear the thought of having even one quarter sitting in his piggy bank.  He rushes straight to the store to spend it as soon as he possibly can.  My daughter was becoming quite neurotic about burglars (and her brothers) taking her money.  So, we finally went to the bank and she deposited a huge amount of cash.

I recently received an e-mail from my financial institution.  It was a newsletter that included an article about budgeting.  In the article I found multiple interesting links to budgeting games for children and adults.  Here is a link to a recent article in The Seattle Times that was quoted in the newsletter: Budgeting is a lot like eating spinach - good for you.

I appreciated the links to the children's games in the newsletter.  (Believe me, I have tried diligently to illustrate the value in saving money while playing Monopoly with my son, but he just doesn't seem to get it; but with a computer game... I have high hopes.)  My oldest son received more than $100 in cash and Target gift cards for his birthday recently.  He quickly spent all of it on a huge Lego police station, a Wii game, more Pokemon cards.  No matter how much we tried to convince him to wait it out, save the money, or at least part of it, he was determined to spent almost every single penny - immediately.

Even for adults it is difficult to exercise self-control and save money.  I remember often my dad telling me: "Everyone knows how to spend money; most people just don't know how to save money."  But even when we have experienced often the inner peace that comes from exercising self-control and saving money, it is difficult to make it a habit, and overcome the random, rare, personal financial temptations, (for me: children's books, organic produce, birthday gifts...).

We signed up for a while ago, but I never spent the necessary time breaking down all of my bills and grocery receipts, etc. so it is not very accurate or useful for us yet.  I can see how potentially useful it could be there, if I can just get myself to invest the necessary time in the initial setup.  The most interesting link was, a site that focuses on managing and paying off debt.  People can "earn badges" and become eligible to win money when they manage their money well.  We could probably use that after residency is over.

Oh yes, we could.

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