I probably don’t have the healthiest relationship with money. Spending seems a lot like dieting to me — most of the time I’m hoarding my pay and living on as little as possible in case of disaster. But when I do spend, it’s like a dam has broken and I’m off the wagon. One little “cheat” will cascade into numerous splurges, all justified by that idea that if I already broke the budget, the battle is already lost.
Often, I wonder if my feast or famine view of cash has to do with growing up poor, with a single mother, and always feeling like we were a step away from losing what little we had. My current austerity and gluts seem to model what I saw when I was younger, and despite knowing my family’s financial situation is far different, I still can’t quite shake the feeling that a crisis is just around the corner.
As my daughter grows older, I find myself trying to explain the simple concepts of money to her, from the idea that we don’t get to buy everything we want, to understanding that eating out is a once a month luxury, not a daily occurrence. She’s always looking for a way to earn money to buy her own toys, her own jewelry, or slowly coming around to the idea that a princess doll has more worth than a new dress when the dress can’t be worn every day.
My daughter is still younger than the daughters in this article in Forbes, but the lessons are still the same: money is a concrete object with actual limits, a concept much more difficult to teach these days when most transactions are done via plastic and no actual bills or coins change hands. In fact, that’s why it’s even more important for young girls to learn financial lessons early. They will be going into a workplace that will sadly still value them less. They will earn less for the same work and need their dollar to stretch further, and should they leave the workforce to care for a family as so many do, they will need to know the ins and outs of the primary earner’s income to ensure they aren’t cut off from the realities of the financial decisions all together.
My daughter will learn to be in control of her own financial well-being and how to make smart decisions with her money, rather than have knee-jerk, emotionally driven actions like I do. It will be the best gift I can give her for the day when she is managing the finances for herself, or a family of her own.
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