Teaching Your Kids The Value Of Money, Hard Work And How Boring It Is To Adult

My father returned to Sydney for the Ashes and took the whole family out to dinner the other night – as in, he paid for all of us, naively telling us that he was going to BEFORE we had ordered from the menu.


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Like kids in a candy store


My kids aren’t used to a free-for-all mentality when it comes to restaurant menus – expensive off-piste specials included. With an accountant for a father, there are family rules when we eat out, and Kurt and NC have been strictly brought up to ignore appetizers, starters and cocktails and take a shortcut to the mains. Even steak – unless it’s contaminated by Mad Cow Disease (hence on special) – must be overlooked in favor of more sustainably financial choices, such as burgers, pasta or fish n’chips.


They understand that dessert will be an ice cream from the Seven-Eleven on the way home, if they’re lucky.


Which was why I couldn’t help feeling a little betrayed by the open mouths and first-day-of-the-Target-sales-look on both their faces when my father told them they could pick anything. Indeed, he might have been speaking a foreign language to them.


‘What?’ spluttered Kurt in disbelief, his eyes searching mine, imploring me to confirm this dream come true. ‘Even… a starter?’ At which point I had to kick him under the table.


NC is rather more mercenary and the minute the idea of oysters was bandied about, her hand went up – a fair-weather vegetarian, my daughter somehow managed to justify her inclusion in the fish starter via an emergency consultation with Google. It turns out that oysters are sustainable, do not have a nervous system or a face… apparently…hence they are fair game.


Anyone would think my kids had been brought up on the poverty line from the ill-disguised delight on their faces when a side order of bread suddenly appeared on the table – it was like a miracle had occurred, like Christmas after Christmas, as each of them regressed back to being kids in a candy store with a penny in their hands. And although I had worried about how Kurt would fare with the evening – eating out not being his favorite pastime –  I have never seen him adapt to a new situation as quickly.


And while I sat there pretending that cheese before dessert represents normal life in our household, I realized that my father’s generosity was a good lesson for my son – it was good for him to witness the pleasure to be gained from working hard. In his half-price Pierre Cardin trousers– two sizes too big, (but PC nonetheless), and one of Kurt’s first impulse buys from his hard-earned cash, he is learning the value of money quickly.


So I decided to ignore NC’s sneaky order of a Baileys at the end of the evening and the crass, all-you-can-eat-the-buffet-bar mentality of our family as a whole. Our behavior was not a sign of avarice, rather an appreciation and an extension of our kids education in the value of money – something that my son is slowly beginning to comprehend as he begins his working life, because impulsive, compulsive and with a worrying grasp of consequences, he has yet to have more than a cent left in his bank account  24 hours after payday, since he started to work.


Thank fuck, he is paid weekly.


This week, his father drags him into the next stage of how boring it is to be an adult money management when he starts making him pay for his own travel expenses, while I will adding a pair of strong walking shoes and a new bike to his birthday present list.

I Don’t Want To Be So Middle-Aged, I Have To Manage My Money

I’m certain that the old man and I can’t be the only middle-aged couple in the universe to argue about money. savings-box-161876_1280


The question of what to spend your money on can put pressure on the strongest relationships at this stage of your life, when you have no idea how long you’re budgeting for, when you have different ideas of how to make the most of your time left.


I’m the impulsive romanticist, the princess in the Disney film, who due to some dodgy family genes has always been convinced of a short innings, so I want to make the most of each day and therefore am happy to spend our money somewhat irrationally.


Buying shit makes me feel better when I’m down, I enjoy the fulfilment from being generous, I love eating in good restaurants and going away.


I don’t even mind having to work a few extra years for nice wine and good shoes.


The old man, on the other hand, has calculated to the cent how much money we will need for the rest of our lives, should we exceed all expectation and live beyond the oldest existing pensioner in China; and tries to budget accordingly. He slams the brakes on impulsivity and locks the wallet wherever he can to support his dream of retiring as early as possible, because he no longer has the stomach to be someone else’s bitch. Except mine, obviously. He is happy to go without, if it means he can spend the rest of his life in the simple contentment and comfort of watching golf videos all day long.


One of the biggest frustrations and realities of the long-term relationship is that you have to meet each other halfway on grown-up issues.


Due to certain, blown out of proportion, past disagreements over my desire/need/sickness (his words) to shop, the old man has recently set me a monthly budget to curb my self-medication/extravagance, yet still has the gall to tut disparagingly if I dare mention I’m going to the shops.


And it irks me, because he simply doesn’t get it. We are different genders with different personalities and our happiness is triggered by opposing stimuli.


The old man has worn the same combo of polo shirt and boating shoes for the past three decades – he is no David Beckham – so in my opinion, he has no authority to discuss the dictates of fashion with me. You know when you’ve had a really exhausting, shite day at work and you just want to be a lazy bitch and suggest dinner out? Well, in our household, if the night doesn’t fall within the weekly allowance of one take-away and one dinner, the old man looks at me in complete disbelief, like some disappointed parent with their spoiled brat.


Very soon I expect to be banished to the naughty step.


Of course, there’s nothing stopping me from taking a stand, AND I HAVE, I can assure you. We are equals and we both earn money, however I also know that dependent on my mood I can be quite appallingly irresponsible with money and also quite like the idea of early retirement, so I’m in the painful process of slow acceptance. I haven’t forgotten that when I came into our relationship I bought with me some extra baggage of a huge Mastercard bill, nor am I likely to forget it when the old man still reminds me about in every conversation we have about money.


His heart in the right place – sort of – put it this way, we don’t go without, and what I see as him being parsimonious is really about money management;  we simply exist at opposite ends of the budgeting spectrum.


So my old argument that we might get run over by a bus tomorrow falls on deaf ears these days; apparently, we need to save for our future, not handbags.


Anyone else identify with this little relationship problem?