Let´s talk about money honey…

During the past few months I have been reshuffling my finances and having a good look on what I am spending and selling some of the stuff I do not use anymore (and it is in good condition to sell it – stuff that I would buy if I see it -).

Of course, my not so little one can see me doing this selling – taking pictures, writing something down, putting the items aside, packing them and subsequently posting them – and now we hit that stage where he asks why.

“Why are you taking pictures?” “Because I am going to sell it.”

“Why are you going to sell it?” “Because I need the money; because I do not use it any more”.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you need the money? Why you don’t use it anymore?”

“I need the money to pay my debts. I don’t use it anymore because I feel it is time for it to go to a good home.”

“Oh.”

“And somebody pays for it?” “Yes”.

You can imagine how the conversation goes. Sometimes it is difficult to end it and to put a stop to it without loosing my cool.

When I first started to sell my things – the ones I don’t use, the ones that I love but hey, I must – it was hard and somehow uncomfortable to talk about debt, money and savings with my son. I feel I did not want to ruin his innocence and the magic there is in childhood with the cold hard truth that money does not grow on trees. But then again, it does not grow on trees.

He does have the concept of getting a coin because he does a chore around the house. He does have the concept of saving and using his coins to buy something he wants. He still does not understand that I must go to work so I get paid. That the money I get paid sometimes is not enough. Hence, I must boost up and sell my books, my clothing, my music.

I wonder if I am giving the right example. I wonder if I could ever explain to him that I am paying my financial mistakes (heavily). But in the other hand I want him to understand , leading by example  that financial issues wont resolve by themselves and he will have to own them. You may wonder if he is too young for it. I give you an example that shows he is not and every occasion is good enough.

Say he got some well-earned coins from helping around the house – with tasks suited for his age and capabilities. He decides to take them with him because he had seen something at the local supermarket, and he is desperate to get it. As an adult you may realise that the thing he wants to get is just plastic and it will last less than 24 hours.)And sadly you will be right).

You advise it would not be the best investment and it will break in no time. You show an alternative, but he is set on his decision. I go with it. He is happy because he paid for it and the lady at check out gave him loads of praise for being such a big boy, whilst I remind him, he needs to get the change.

We get home, he plays with said item and…it breaks. I am tempted to say, “I told you so”. I have to bite my tongue and swallow each word. Instead, I let him run through his frustration. Why I don’t do is allow him to just discard it and get on with something else. As harsh as it sounds, if it is broken beyond repair, and it’s not used to generate / create something new (he is quite prone to do such things) it does not go to a pile of toys. It goes in the recycling bin (it is plastic at the end of the day). He gets more frustrated because he just “binned” his acquisition and there’s no way around it because neither he nor me can fix it. And he is few coins down.

This scenario will repeat itself several times.

Until one day he brings his coins to the shopping trip and there it is a great box of Lego. He counts his coins and he do not have enough; he needs to carry on saving. I have to refrain to say “I can give you the difference” or just surrender to those puppy eyes and say “go on, I get it for you”. Hard as it is, he has to save up. I gently remind him that he could do one or two “extra” chores and that will add to his stack.  Fast-forward couple of weekends and he is at the supermarket with this pile of coins very proudly paying for his Lego box.

Lessons learned:

– Saving is cool

– Sometimes you waste money and it does not feel good, does it?

– Always get the change….

Grabber Revolution

Have you ever got the feeling that if you do not do something it will never get done?

Well, that is how I have been feeling for the last weeks. Let me tell you why.

In front of our house, between our path and the road, there is a stretch of land with bushes and trees (and yes, we already hanged a bird feeder from one tree which faces my son’s bedroom window, so he can see the birds) which in summer is a fresh green natural screen that separate us from the road and in winter is just bare and…yes, wintery.

Because this stretch of land is now bare, I can see everything: twigs, branches, stones, plants, and…. rubbish. Lots of. Bottles. Cans. Wrappings. Pieces of aged polystyrene. Supermarket bags. Lids. Costa Coffee cups. All scattered along this stretch of land which is about 50 metres long. This stretch I must see it every morning when I leave for work, and every afternoon / evening when I come back from work. I have to see it every time I walk along with my son to go to School, or to the park. You get the picture.

I SEE IT ALL THE TIME.And it is annoying. Waking up, move the curtains, look up, look down…and I see litter. Come back from the park…and litter. This stretch of land is trimmed by a quadrille that comes in the autumn to cut the hedge and to trim the trees. But not to clean it.

Hence…. Today was the day when I decided it had to change. Since we are on school holidays and my little one is remarkably better (he has been unwell for almost the entire week) and it is sunny outside (for a change!) I thought it would be a good idea to go out with the grabber, plastic bags, gloves, and woolly hats to pick up the litter. And so, we did.

 

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No need to say that contrary to everybody else’s views and opinions, my little one had a blast of a time. What could be more fun than to go with the grabber and pick up a wrapping, a bottle, a lid? Discover bottles and count how many cans we found?

My little one saying aloud “all this plastic is no good for birds’ mummy! We must collect it with the grabber!” and giggling after every finding, saying “yucky!” more times than I can remember and  watching him separating plastic, tin and glass in some kind of order, pattern only known to him with a scientific concentration was priceless.

We stopped for lunch and afterwards we finish what we started. We brought back into our yard 2 bags full of plastic, about 6 cans and 4 bottles (yes, my son counted it all).Full bird feeder

Our reward was to put some seeds for the birds on the bird feeder and a new feeder, but this one hanging from the hedge, as an experiment.

We ended tired, but happy. I hope this activity helps him to recognise how important it is to put the littler where it should go and helps him to understand that he is responsible for looking after this planet of ours…no matter how small the contribution.