Were you an unappreciative kid?
As you get older and have children of your own, is it just me or do you start to look back upon your own childhood years and realise just how little you knew about the value of money? Do you regret how much you pestered your parents for endless amounts of ‘things’ which ultimately would have cost them endless amounts of money, I know I do. Here are just a few of the things I now look back on and wish I’d not have pestered my parents so much for.
Weekly Trips to McDonald’s
I don’t know if it’s the taste of the food, Ronald’s beaming red smile or the toy in the Happy Meal but most kids just seem to have an inbuilt love of McDonald’s from the second they leave the womb, and I was no different. As a kid I used to think that if we as a family could afford to go to McDonald’s one week, then we could afford to go there every week, right? It was only £1.99 for a Happy Meal after all, that’s not much money at all! What I didn’t realise is that when you are eating as a family of 5, the cost of 3 kid’s meals, 2 adult’s meals and then the inevitable McFlurry can soon add up to a quite nasty receipt. I really didn’t understand the true cost involved when asking to go there all of the time but I’m guessing my Dad knew very well indeed!
The Latest Trainers and Football Boots
As a sports lover I have to say that I really do want to provide my kids with some decent gear to play sports in as they get older, but new sports gear is another thing which doesn’t come cheap. When I was young I seem to remember badgering my parents quite often for the latest football boots and trainers even though there wasn’t really anything wrong with my current ones.
There is a lot of pressure placed on kids these days to have the latest this and the newest that. It was bad enough when I was at school so I can only imagine how hard it must be for kids today living in our celebrity, designer and techno era. I really hope that I’ll be able to win my kids over to the idea of buying good quality items at a reasonable cost, rather than spending silly money on items that aren’t much better but are highly priced because they have the backing of the celebrity face. I don’t expect it will be an easy task though.
Trips to the Cinema or Bowling Alley
Cinema and bowling alley trips were another luxury that I completely took for granted. I used to feel so hard done by to think that we couldn’t enjoy these activities each and every weekend. Had I known then what I know now about the cost of these activities – the cost of the popcorn and soft drinks alone in fact – then I really wouldn’t have pestered my parents so often for them. If you are trying to enjoy these activities whilst still sticking to a family budget then it is perfectly understandable that it may not be possible to do them every weekend, this was not the way I felt as a kid though. So this is another area where I really wish I hadn’t given my parents such a hard time on the weekends where we couldn’t afford these activities. I wasn’t a nightmare child by any means but in hindsight I could definitely have been a little more understanding.
Do you want a respectable lifestyle or a frivolous one?
If only my Dad could have found a way to truly help me to understand the whole concept of prioritising spending. To explain that sometimes in life it’s a case of choosing between having a nice home in a reasonable area but not enjoying as many treats, or instead living in a run-down house in a not so nice area but being able to spend money a little more frivolously. Sure the super-rich may not have to make these choices but I expect that most families in the UK do have to prioritise their spending in this way. The whole concept of prioritising spending is an important but extremely difficult lesson to try and help our children to understand. It is however a lesson which we can’t afford to ignore if we want them to be appreciative of the lifestyle they have, even if it does seem like a thankless task at times.
As we try our best to teach our kids the value of money from a young age, we do well to remember that they are just kids after all. Until they have houses and families of their own, I don’t think they’ll ever truly appreciate the value of money and understand just how much things cost. I find it amusing to look back now and realise how warped my own view of money was as a young lad. Hopefully with a little bit of financial education my boys will catch on a little faster than I did, I’m not expecting it to be an easy sell though.
Were you an unappreciative kid?