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?

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