One of the most repeated phrases I tell my kids and my wife is that we need to be, "selfish with our money." If we're going to spend money on something, we need to be absolutely sure we use whatever product or service we're buying to its fullest capacity. But recently I discovered that I may have either taken my zeal of value a little too far, or I've missed a very important part of the lesson.
My daughter came home from school complaining of a headache.
At her request, I gave her a dose of ibuprofen to help make her feel better. A little while later I reminded her that it was dance class night, and that she needed to get ready soon. Again she complained that her head hurt. We went back and forth in a discussion regarding whether she should go, or stay home.
I told her to rest for a few more minutes.
When it was absolutely the last minute before she needed to get ready, I asked her from across the living room whether she thought she should go or not. When I pulled back the blanket she had raised above her head I saw a thumb sized tear resting on each cheek.
"I feel like I'd be wasting your money if I don't go."
I dropped to my knees and rested my head on her stomach. I put her hand in mine and looked into her wet brown eyes. I told her that I understood why she would think that given the financial lessons I have been trying to teach her. It was not OK to miss dance class because she'd rather stay home and play a computer game, or hang out with her friends.
That would be wasting money.
But if she felt sick, then she needs to stay home and rest.
I told her that I gave her permission to not feel good. I know that sounds strange, and controlling, but it felt like the right thing to say to her at that moment. She was trying to do what she thought her dad wanted her to do. She wanted to toughen up, put on a smile and make the most of her dance class tuition. My statement was exactly what she needed. Tears instantly began streaming down her face as she asked me if she could go to her room and take a nap.
I picked her up, cradled her, and carried her up the stairs to her room.
I still talk a lot about value, and using the things we buy with our money to the fullest. But I also point out that there are situations where you just have to let go. Life is about options, and making the best decision at that moment in time. Sometimes it means just going to your room and taking a nap.
It's a lesson my daughter and I learned together.
Travis is a contributing writer for the A Straight Talk on Debt blog. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family in Minnesota. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.
You can follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles