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?

Book Recomendations, Money

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?

Money

Free Shipping? No Thanks

Along the way, I learned that shipping costs could be the best use of my dollar. I love saving money. However, chasing the lure of free or reduced shipping caused much waste.

Ordering $8 more to eliminate the $7 shipping cost means an almost free item, right?  Not when I perused a catalog forty-three minutes to find that add-on. Once arrived, the unneeded, rarely-used item claimed valuable shelf-space.

Combining orders with a friend to reduce shipping was rarely worth the coordinating time. Or the friendship risk. One friend was angry with me when her item was out of stock.  Another friend saw my order as meeting the minimum shipping and her part of the order as the free shipping.  Even when orders were smooth, combined efforts outweighed the minuscule savings.

A few years ago, I faced a $32 shipping charge to mail my son a package. I chaffed until I asked myself, “What if a friend offered to drive over 800 miles to deliver this package to my son’s doorstep in exchange for $32?” A bargain.

Money is a tool. Now I gladly take it out of the toolbox for shipping.

What are you learning about your money tool?