Having kids who understand basic money management is something I frequently take for granted. This week, Halloween week, was a perfect reminder.
Last week our family was road tripping home from a dual-family vacation in Florida when we found ourselves at a very unique gas station in Mississippi. As road trippers, we’ve come across all types of gas stations in our travels, but this one stood out. Its first stand apart feature was the lone toilet, conveniently located in a storage closet that also housed toxic chemicals and a mop. On the way to this closet we had to file past shelves filled with Hampton Inn bar soap, Days Inn shampoo and Holiday Inn mouthwash. None of that compared to what was just inside the front door – a mobile clothing rack filled with what appeared to be garage sale rejects.
“LOOK AT THAT COAT!” my 13-year old son yelped as soon as he spotted it. “I MUST HAVE THAT COAT!” I slowly came around the corner to see what could have garnered that much attention from this normally low-key kid. I uttered my hallmark phrase:
“You’ve GOT to be kidding.”
“Mom, this coat is so awesome. And it’s only $10! Have you ever heard of a coat for $10? This is going to make a great Halloween costume. I’m going to go as Macklemore!”
As I looked at the coat I realized:
- It was indeed a pretty cool coat once I pictured it outside this Twilight Zone of a gas station and
- It was his money and a $10 Halloween costume seemed like a good way to spend it. I mean, most kids wouldn’t even have $10 left on the way home from a place like Disney.
So, I smiled a little smile and off he went to buy his treasure.
As he came running out of the gas station, he pulled his new find out of the bag to show Bret. Buttons went flying across the parking lot.
“Nice coat,” Bret said.
“That’s okay, I can learn to sew them back on, or just leave them off, I don’t care.”
That was a week ago.
Not Teaching Money Management Leads to Halloween Horrors
Yesterday, I found myself in one of those pop up Halloween stores that has every single piece of expensive-to buy-but-cheap-to-make thing you could imagine for this overdone holiday. I was helping another kid pick out makeup to make himself look old, when I heard the following (loud) conversation between a father and his late teenage son:
“Okay, so I’m not going to play this game with you. I bring you here to pick out something for Halloween and you just cannot be happy unless I shell out $100 for some cheap costume.”
“But dad, can’t I just get this one? It has cool fangs and a cape and…”
“No, see this is the problem. You don’t need this costume, you should be perfectly happy…”
And the conversation went on and on. Loudly. I’m guessing the son was around 17. The thing that really stood out to me was that the dad kept telling his son he wasn’t going to play the game, but that’s exactly what he was doing. The arguing continued right up to the checkout lane where the dad shelled out $100 for the costume.
Afterwards, I was thinking about it and I realized that the dad is really getting exactly what he sowed. He has a son who doesn’t take his dad seriously, and who clearly doesn’t understand the value of money. How could he? Apparently his dad is paying his way through life. I felt bad, but not for the dad. I felt bad for the son who is destined to make thousands upon thousands of dollars of financial mistakes as an adult because his parents didn’t think it was important to teach him about money when he was a child.
Thank goodness you know better!
I wish all of you a happy and safe Halloween.