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?


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?

Money, Parenting

Best Use of Our Dollars

How often have you lied to your children by saying, “We can’t afford it?” Never?  I thought so until my children called me on it. (I thought the same about my parents, but I kept my mouth closed.)

Most of the time, we can afford most of our children’s requests. “We can’t afford a new computer,” we say and then we buy a new lawn mower.  We didn’t lie, we protest. Yes, we did. We could have afforded the computer by not buying the lawn mower. When our food budget was stretched, we could have afforded the cookies by putting back the milk.

I learned to say—but not often enough—“Cookies are not the best use of our food dollars.” “Name brand jeans are not the best use of our clothing dollars.”  “Bringing homemade sandwiches to eat at a rest area instead of buying fast food is a better use of our vacation dollars.”

“Better or best use of our dollars” not only speaks truth—given our adult preferences—but re-enforces scarcity, a concept even a small child can understand.

Do you have alternative words for “We can’t afford it?