Today’s post comes from the remarkable Allan Liwanag.
Allan Liwanag is a personal finance blogger who paid off at least $40K debt and saved $70K in 2.5 years. An analyst by day and dedicated blogger by night, he loves to share his thoughts – based on his research and experience – on topics related to family, life, and money. He owns The Practical Saver.
Here’s Allan’s excellent guest post:
Regardless of what we do and who we are in this world, we wear different hats at a given time. Some of us wear the hats of being a boss, a magician, a golfer, nurse, or others. Many of us are parents to our children.
As parents, we strive to make life better for our kids. We teach them important life lessons that will help shape their own values, personalities, and ways of life. We teach them the right and wrong things on just about anything based on our own beliefs.
When I was a single man, a lot of my friends who are parents told me that having kids was more than just an opportunity to raise good children. According to them, it was also an opportunity to learn from kids. Being the inexperienced person I was back then, I would easily dismiss such information just because I had no basis for comparison. I did not have kids of my own to validate what they were speaking about.
A couple of years forward, I know what they meant during that time. Maybe it’s just hard to understand such things when you have not experienced being in this situation (i.e. having kids to raise).
As I go through life together with my wife and my daughter, I have to say that I really learn a lot from my daughter. These learnings even extend to the financial choices I make for our family.
Go with the basics
Kids teach us to be happy and contented even with the basics.
When my daughter started having interest in toys, we gave her building block toys that we bought for less than $5 over at Walmart or Ebay. Up to now, she still likes playing those toys. A lot of our friends and family have given a ton of toys to her, some are used and some are new.
My daughter only played these fancy toys for a couple of times. After that, she went back to her small, mechanical block toys. Even when her play space is filled with these really cool toys, she would still find her building blocks and play them like the rest of the toys don’t exist.
Regardless of how many toys she has and how better these toys are compared to her simple building blocks, she would still play them like she hasn’t play them before.
So, how does she and her actions teach me and my wife about our finances? The answer is simple and straightforward. My daughter shows us that even when there are better and more appealing products out in the market, we can or should always come back to the basic products because they simply provide us what we need. We realized that if our baby can do that, so can we.
Go try again
Every now and then, I see my daughter gets frustrated when she can’t accomplish what she wants to do.
She’d be upset when she can’t say what she wants to say because her language skills are not fully developed yet. She’d be frustrated when one of her toy eggs won’t open. These are just some of things we notice from her.
In times like these, we would help her and explain her what she needs to do to make things work. We would tell her to be patient and try again until she gets it. She listens to us and makes improvement in no time.
I know there are other kids and parents who have gone or going through these events.
What’s the lesson here? When we are going through tough times like dealing with debt, it seems that life isn’t going to get better. Actually, it could and it will. You just need to put an extra effort to make things better. If you need help, ask for one.
Just like what seventeenth-century English author John Donne said, that is, “no man is an island”. Sometimes, we can’t do things alone. Family and friends are always there when you need them.
Go be creative
Kids are known to be creative and imaginative. Sometimes, kids have imaginary friends and they play with them and have fun. They can make something out of nothing and use their stuff for other purposes.
For example, my daughter uses her towel as dress, superman’s cape, or as a magic carpet. My wife didn’t even tell her what a magic carpet is or has not shown her the movie Aladdin.
As parents who have more responsibilities than our children, we sometimes forget to be creative and imaginative because of so many things going on at the same time. We focused too much on what’s in front of us that we forget to think outside the box. I can say the same thing with our finances.
Kids teach us to be resourceful. When we as parents try to make the ends meet, we need to stretch the money we have. We need to understand and learn what we can cut down or cut out from our expenses. We may need to think what we have now, be creative, and find other purposes so we can save money by not spending on other products. We certainly can use some DIY talents that are still dormant inside our subconscious mind.
There are always ways to make our finances better and more manageable only if we put our creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination at work.
Go learn some more
Kids constantly learn new things. From the time they are born, kids learn at a faster rate than we adults can.
Kids learn how to play with other kids. They learn how to read, learn new talents and skills, among others. They are sponges when it comes to learning. They will absorb and retain the lessons they learn and these will stay with them for a long time.
As parents or adults, we consistently learn as well and we learn every day. Just because we are adults doesn’t mean that we stop learning. Learning about finances should not be an exception.
The more we educate ourselves about investments, savings, spending, among others, the better decisions we make in our personal finance. For the most part, the only thing that separate us from learning more about personal finance is our lack of willingness to learn and make time for it.
I don’t know of any parents who have not sacrificed their needs so their kids can get theirs.
When I was a young man, one who didn’t have responsibility and family, I always thought the kids of my siblings were spoiled because they got what they needed but my siblings (i.e. their parents) had to give way for their kids. But it was all sacrifice out of love and care.
As parents we learn to sacrifice so our kids can have a better life now and in the future. We sacrifice because we like them to have more than what we have even if it means that we work harder and guard them round the clock.
If we know how to sacrifice for our kids, which is true definition of sacrifice, we can set aside our wants in exchange for our needs. We grow older by the day and many of us will want to retire in the future. Would it be too much to sacrifice what we want and save money so we can have a good life when we retire? Is it too much to ask to save money for emergency so when rainy days come, we have money to meet those emergencies?
Go do what I say and do
I have seen many parents who want to teach their kids to focus on having what they need and not what they want. I say that this is really a good lesson for kids. They teach their kids why needs are far more important over wants. Many children will follow their parents because they understand that their parents are teaching what is best for them.
Ironically, many of these parents would go on to buy what they want for themselves, something that’s opposite to what they teach.
Kids teach us the lessons of listening and acting appropriately based on what is taught. Parents can learn from these lessons. If we want our kids to follow what we teach them, we should always set ourselves as examples for them. If we teach our kids to prioritize needs over wants, it is in our best interest and your kids’ to do what we say and not just for them to do what we want them to do.
As parents, we are responsible for teaching our kids. Just because kids are kids doesn’t mean that we cannot learn from them. Though they are far younger than we are, we can learn valuable lessons that we can directly apply to our life especially to our finances.
What have you learned from your children? Do you think that children provide us lessons that we can use for financial decisions that we may make for ourselves?