You Can’t Pay for Parenting
November 21, 2007
Some of the best personal finance lessons I’ve learned did not come from books or interviews. Personal experience is often the best teacher. For example, as a single parent, I have learned you can’t pay for parenting.
Oh, sure. You can hire a babysitter or nanny to be with the children in your absence, but you can’t pay for being absent. If you try, the consequences can be financially fatal.
After 10 years of marriage, my husband decided he wanted to move on with his life. Unfortunately, the kids and I weren’t invited to tag along. Shortly thereafter, I began setting the stage for financial disaster. Like many single moms before me, I unconsciously tried to make up for the absentee father by spending money, money we did not have to waste.
At Christmas, the kids still got too many toys. We often spent twice as much as necessary at the supermarket. We acquired 4 pets, bought a piano for almost half what the same instrument would cost elsewhere, and shopped for new clothes-instead of checking out consignment shops first. The list could go on forever.
After I had dug us into a financial pit of disaster, I was talking to another single mom about the financial lesson I learned the hard way. Come to find out, she had been following the same path of financial ruin.
The financial lesson I learned:
You can’t pay for parenting, when the other parent chooses to remain absent. No amount of Christmas presents, junk food, or whatever you purchase, can make up for the loss.
Instead, living within budget constraints, and teaching your children to do the same, is one of the best gifts you can bestow on your offspring. Although they may not see the wisdom of your lessons now, in a few years they will be of more value than any toy or new outfit you can purchase today.
So, what are some financial lessons you have learned about being a parent?
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