If Money Can Fix It…

Along the way, I heard a saying that stuck with me and the few I shared it with.

If money can fix it, it’s not a problem.

It seemed idealistic or at least unrealistic until I considered what money can’t fix. Money can’t fix a miscarriage, a wayward child, death of a loved one, abandonment, or betrayal. I have friends and relatives who would have liquidated all assets if money could have cured their spouse’s cancer.

One night, a son called with bad news. He finished by reminding, “Don’t worry, Mom. Money can fix it, and if money can fix it…”

Can money fix any of your concerns?

Holidays, Money

Not a Penny to Waste

When my husband attended one of his first meetings as a new faculty member, what he remembered most was a statement from the head of the business school.

“We have money for everything we need but not a penny to waste.”

Dean Richard Scott

We claimed that declaration as our money mantra, and it outlasted all others. (See here and here) Over the years, we have neglected things we needed and wasted a bit, but it has been a good compass. In times of want we have said, “We have money for everything we need,” and in times of plenty we have said, “We don’t have a penny to waste.”

I especially like the reminder during the holidays when both temptations exist: not allocating enough money for celebrating and unnecessary splurges.

Do any statements guide your money thinking?

Decisions, Money

Love It Or Send It Back

No matter the school choice, summer is a big buying season for the coming academic year. Based on reviews, I occasionally bought curriculum unseen. When it arrived, I sometimes had doubts after looking at the teacher’s guide or skimming the text.

However, I would talk myself into liking it because I thought I should. Others claimed it was their favorite. Or I had spent much time deciding. Or I had spent a lot of money. Or it was a bargain. Or several of the above.

Along the way, I learned to trust my misgivings. No matter how much I hoped that a doubtful curriculum would work, it never did.

If I didn’t like a choice from the beginning, I never would.

I should send it back and pay the postage. (See Free Shipping, No Thanks Here)

The same principle applied to store purchases, especially clothing. If I didn’t love it in the dressing room, I should leave it. Research shows an item is worth the most at the moment of purchase.  Afterwards, the value diminishes. I learned liking wasn’t enough to pull out my wallet.

What do you need to return?


A Favorite Money Story

Jesus used the power of a story to help his disciples understand and remember spiritual truths. We can follow his example as we teach.

In Famer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the town has gathered for a 4th of July Celebration. A cousin dares seven-year-old Almanzo Wilder to ask his father for a nickel to spend on lemonade. Almanzo knows he will be denied, but he asks to save his pride. Instead of a nickel, his father shows Almanzo a half dollar.

It’s work, son,” Father said. “That’s what money is; it’s hard work.

He asks Almanzo to describe the process of raising potatoes. Almanzo complies.

That’s what’s in this half-dollar, Almanzo. The work that raised half a bushel of potatoes is in it.

Mr. Wilder gives the half dollar to Almanzo so he can buy a suckling pig—and raise a litter of pigs worth $4-5 each—or buy lemonade to drink. Almanzo returns to his peers who are envious when they learn that he is buying a suckling pig.

For a couple of years, “Suckling pig or suck lemonade,” was a way to remind our boys of wise financial choices.

Has a story helped you illustrate a principle?

Money, Parenting

You Only Spend Money Once

Saying “Better or best use of our dollars” instead of “We can’t afford it” helped our children understand spending choices. See Best Use of Our Dollars Here.

We also had another saying when the boys were very young.

When my sons were two, four, and five, my grandmother sent each a couple of dollars in the mail.  At Toys R Us, the boys surveyed their choices.

One son chose two matchbox cars, each less than a dollar in 1992. However, his older brother chided, “You can’t buy two. You spend money one time.”

I was glad that my kindergartner understood that principle. I explained that his brother could spend his money once and have two cars.

Later we would occasionally say, “You only spend money one time.”

From the boys’ large collection circa 1988-1993

Have you coined any money sayings?