Money Is A Symbol
Tuesday (Money Archive# 1 of 1)
It’s rather difficult to relate money to an infant, he has no idea of the concept or meaning of it. However, by your action you can guide him toward recognizing and implementing the forces that make money relevant. Just as the Star Spangled Banner (our national flag) is a symbol, so is money. Both of them represent the same thing: the power of individual achievement. Superimpose the letter “U” (United) on top of the letter “S,” (States) the result is the symbol for our currency.
When we pledge allegiance to our flag, that act is not just a detached statement of patriotism, it is a declaration of independence: independent thought, independent assessment of liberty and justice for all. Please keep the above in mind as you communicate the meaning and symbol of money to your Little One. Also keep in mind: when the value of our currency declines (we call it “inflation”), it is a forerunner that our individual rights are taking a sizable hit.
I’ve stated a number of things about money: everything about it is designed to open your mind to the concept of it and where it fits in crafting your Little One’s ”Bridge to Success.” All this being said, he has no idea about money, what it is and why it might be important. However, it’s important that you hone in on the concept of money in subtle ways.
Remember what I said about him being unusually observant. If you have money problems, not only does he see it, he can sense it. If you are overly extravagant with money, that action devalues its significance. If you hoard it and treat it as though you will never have enough of it; that sends a message to him that he’d better be extremely frugal and protective of it because it may be taken away at the “drop of a hat.” In order for him to be well balanced about money, you need to promote the fact that he needs to have a joyful relationship with it.
You may think of money as something out in space, that it is separate from you; not so, money is the fruit of production and the essence of freedom. Your actions with money require an alignment with a personal value system. Mackay McNeill said it well (in her book titled, “Intersection of Joy and Money”). My impression of what she stated, and I agree, is that as long as you treat your actions around money as separate from who you really are, your Little One will probably (at best) have a slow start coalescing money with joy. That kind of puts a damper on that “barrel of fun” we continue to talk about.
How many families do you know in which one child is good with money and another is seemingly hopelessly extravagant? The parents may have imparted financial wisdom to both of them, but one child heard (by comparing what he heard with what he saw), while the other tuned out. Or maybe the parents were terrible with money, and one child decided to avoid their fate by educating himself while the other followed in the parents’ spendthrift footsteps.
The good news is that the past doesn’t have to dictate the future, if you are good with money, that’s great: share your ability with your Little One. On the other hand, if you’re poor with it, find a site on the internet, or grab a book (maybe start with a good primer like Eric Tyson’s “Personal Finance for Dummies,” and you’ll be on your way).
Remember what we said about Money, albeit a powerful commodity, it simply represents the power within us to produce valuable worldly goods that can be exchanged for the worldly goods of others. What that means to you, the parent, is that each of us is able, in some manner, to produce better than average results.
Whatever that ability is, you should share it with your Little One, and incessantly emphasize the idea that she must continually seek to be the best she can be. That means she should consistently seek to produce the best that is within her and to become ever better. In addition, teach her to never, ever accept mediocrity.
I know, I know, I said it before, but it really is super important!
You might ask, “What is mediocrity, and what’s so terrible about it?” That’s a good question, and here’s one answer: “mediocrity” is the position a person attains when he assumes the attitude that “Good enough is good enough!” Here’s the weird part about that equation: when your mind says “That’s good enough,” you are acknowledging that you recognize your effort is short of your goal, but you don’t have the tenacity, energy, sticktuitiveness (whatever you want to call it) to close it out to your satisfaction; in other words, it will remain a dangling participle; that is, something in the back of your mind that is incomplete.
The result is the inaction will cause your mind to maintain an open space that might add to a state of confusion. During your first five years of molding your Little One, that’s a place you don’t want to travel because it produces a road-bump on his path along his “Bridge to Success.”
Notice how meaningless the previous paragraph remains. Did it define “mediocrity?” Did that meaningless dribble cause you to want to answer the question about mediocrity and attack that monster with vengeance? I think not: that, my friend, is “mediocrity.” It’s a place that provides no motivation to achieve dominion over one’s future independence. To be exact: mediocrity is “average,” but no one is “average,” an individual is either greater than or less than; in other words, mediocrity equals “undecided.” You want your Little One to, even if he’s wrong, take a stand.
Remember, she sees what you do in addition to what you say. That means, in your job (union or non-union: management or not), your home (with your spouse, girl/boy friend, child), your play (whatever sport or activity): you, you, you must never, ever accept mediocrity!
Sorry for the tangent, let’s get back to our primary topic: MONEY! Here is one of the most important parts that should be communicated to her: an honest individual is one who knows she cannot continually consume more than she has produced: if a credit card is used, try to make a concerted effort to pay it off no later than the next billing cycle (let her see what you are doing). In addition, teach her the value of character, compassion, honesty, honor, humor, kindness, respect, etc.
More importantly, continually mold the idea and unmistakable fact that money will not purchase happiness for anybody who has no concept of what he wants. It will not give him a code of value if he has no idea of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose if he has evaded the choice of what to seek. Is there an echo in the house? Yeh, I know, you’ve heard that statement before, but it is really super important, or I wouldn’t waste your time repeating it!
The following is an act you might consider: talk with your Little One about something special that he (or you) wants to do or buy, place a monetary value on it: make it something that is small, within reach by the end of the month. If you don’t have a special place to put it, select anything: under the mattress, in a shoe box, in a drawer, it doesn’t matter as long as you have fun selecting it: make a big deal out of the selection. At the end of each week, you and he place one fourth of the agreed upon sum in that special place (no big deal, but make it obvious). Then, at the end of the month, celebrate your achievement by doing, or buying what you planned to do or buy. You don’t need to do that a bunch of times to embed the concept within your Little One of living within your means, setting goals, planning to achieve them and celebrating the result.
That tree you see in the back of the car is a gift for his mom! When you can add someone else in the equation, it might become even more special.
Isn’t life great? pretty simple too!
The secret is to do all the above with style and finesse; in other words, don’t be extremely obvious, on the other hand, let it all hang out. Like we said about yes/no when referring to tough love, it’s better to say we can wait to get it later (when we can afford it) than to say “Put it on the card.”
The final word: the five year period, from birth of your Little One to the time he enters formal schooling (Here you see my younger son, Troy, one of his first days of elementary school, getting on the school bus)
End Tuesday (Money Archive# 1).
Just as an aside: I don’t want to get us into trouble here, I just want to highlight that within the covers of this site, I use two different phrases referring to the concerns of child development. Specifically, I talk about the “critical three” and the “factor of five.” The critical three involves Love, Sex, and Money. Your little “Bundle of Joy” has no idea what those critical three elements are all about, so why should we care. Good question! I use both because they are both important, but in different ways. The critical three are the elements we must concentrate on and plan our critical positive attack, the other two wrap up the factor of five in that those two are the Road-bumps that are lurking in he background to interfere with our progress. Those last two can slow or even stop the progress of our little “Bundle of Joy.” With that in mind, we want to highlight the entire spectrum and put it in perspective; In other words, I just want to eliminate any possible confusion.
That brings to mind a little off-color joke, it also illustrates the value of understanding the words we use. I hope it does not offend anyone. Here it is:
After an executive planning meeting, the boss was in a quandary. He had to fire somebody. He had narrowed it down to one of two people, Debra or Jack. It was an impossible decision – making. He decided he would fire the first one who used the water-cooler the next morning.
After partying all night, Debra came in with a horrible hangover. She went to the water-cooler to take an aspirin. The boss approached her and said “Debra, I’ve never done this before, but I have to lay you or Jack off”. Debra said, ” I don’t feel very well this morning, could you jack-off?”
Shhh! I told you it was off-color!
That my friend, wraps up the third of our Critical Three, and leads us to the primary thing that can interfere with the successful development of any one or all three of them — The Silent Spoiler: Fear! Please continue by advancing to the fourth step in our travel along the Bridge to Success: the “Silent Spoiler.”
Again, advance to the “Silent Spoiler,” not the Archives yet!