Finances – Getting Ready for School

Summertime is so much fun. It’s a great excuse to take trips, spend time outdoors, and get your fill of backyard BBQ’s. But let’s be honest, it can also be a time where your wallet gets a little slim too. It’s fun to let loose and enjoy these great moments. Live it up and make fantastic memories. Then, as September approaches, rework the budget.

Though September is a crazy month, it’s nice to get back into routine. The kids have a set schedule which means you do too. Meal prepping is a must to help with the busy weeks. Your spiritual life can get back into a rhythm of daily devotions as well. Now your finances can too.

It’s tempting to walk into the department and clothing stores and see all the sales on back-to-school items. Suddenly your children tell you that they need a whole new wardrobe. They’ve somehow lost all their writing utensils. Their backpacks are way out of date and might even have last year’s sandwich in them.

This is where it can get tricky. The best thing to do is get out the list the teacher sends of supplies the students will need. Look around the house and find as many items as you can that matches. Then you can start making a list of what is needed.

This is also a good time to go through your kids’ wardrobes. What fits? What doesn’t? Check to see if there are any sales going on. Perhaps it might be helpful to buy next year’s summer clothes for your child. Buy the next size up while it’s on sale.

I was listening to Richard Montanez’s story recently. He grew up in the Mexican migrant working camps in California. When the recess bell rang on his first day of school, he knew that meant lunch time. He was so excited. He got out his lunchbox and sat down with the other kids to eat his lunch. As he went to take a bite, he noticed all the other kids looking at him funny. They asked what he was eating and made fun of him. That night, Richard came home and told his mom to make him a sandwich and a cupcake for his lunch the next day. When she asked him why, he told her that all the kids made fun of his lunch, so he wasn’t going to eat that again.

Richard’s mom quickly got creative. She packed him two burritos in his lunch the next day. She told him he could eat one and then share the other with a friend. Richard said he was selling burritos for $0.25 by the end of the week.

Even though kids think that they need the newest fad to fit in, they really don’t. It can get really expensive having to buy your children a whole new wardrobe and school supplies every year, all for saving peer pressure and the latest fads. Teaching your kids the valuable lesson in having confidence is a greater gift you can give than trying to keep up with the latest trends.

Richard’s mom knew the importance of him owning his culture and ways of life. She taught him to be confident in who he was rather than trying to fit in. This became a valuable lesson as he grew up.

Years later, Richard ended up becoming very wealthy. He and his wife bought a nice house in a high ranked community. Having pride in what he had accomplished, he wanted to ‘christen’ his grass by being the first to cut his lawn, even though he had hired people to maintain it. He explained that a guy in a really nice car pulled up in front of his house while he was cutting the grass. He thought it might be the welcome party bringing him a nice bottle of wine and fancy cheese. Instead, the man asked how much the owner of the house was paying him to cut the lawn. Richard could have been insulted. But he chose to make a joke about it to the guy, making a comment about having relations with the owner’s wife instead of getting paid. Why did he do that? Because he thought about the other Mexican men that were hired to take care of people’s lawn in the neighbourhood. He didn’t want to insult them for their hard work. They were making a living and providing for their families just as he did. He and they all worked hard and should be honoured for it, regardless of wealth or status.

If Richard hadn’t been taught as a child to have confidence in who he was and to work hard for what he had, he wouldn’t have had the humility and honour to handle the situation as an adult.

Teaching your children how to stretch a dollar and take care of what they currently have will greatly benefit them as an adult. It’s hard to tell them no in the moment because they haven’t learned the value of delayed gratification. It’s difficult when they don’t understand time. But the hard no’s you teach them now will be a valuable lesson still being lived out in their adult lives.

So, how can you be creative this fall as you prepare for your students to go back to school? This can apply to little kids and university students. What are some ways that you can save and stretch a dollar and then show your children the benefits of that later? Give them short- and long-term examples so they can see the point of the lesson. Anyone have any good examples of this to share?

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