Regret left a vile taste in my mouth. The sharp flavors of life had spoiled my appetite, an uncommon occurrence based on my addictive relationship with carbs! My child’s serious medical illness forced my delayed entry into responsible adulting. I was a good mother when it came to providing their physical needs, ensuring they had clothes, food, quality childcare, and shelter, but I learned there was more to being a good parent. My son’s diagnosis was not covered completely by insurance, and I had no savings in the bank. I was now highly motivated by intense pain to plan for the future, not just for the next twenty-four hours! Translation, I was scared straight!
According to the Atlantic Daily (article attached below), 47% of respondents couldn’t cover a $400.00 emergency unless they borrowed money or sold something. I was among them but usually dug my way out of the emergency with the credit card that had enough available funds. I had several to choose from! Like many Americans, I also lived paycheck to paycheck, only working overtime for special occasions, birthdays, Christmas gifts or for a trip I didn’t need to go on because I couldn’t pay cash for it (charged the trip, worked extra for spending money). Although I received the “sex” talk as a teenager, there was never a discussion on how to handle money. I entered the real world unprepared, it was either sink or swim.
Once I stopped beating myself up, looking beyond the shame ( I didn’t know what I didn’t know) and finding the solution, it was time to change my family tree. For me, knowing better means doing better. I enrolled my family into Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a 12-week course back then. My youngest son was 16 and still lived at home so it was a requirement that he attend. I’m old school so didn’t give him a choice. I knew the best gift I could give him was the knowledge to handle his finances before he moved out, whether he liked it or not. I looked at my life and saw his future. I wanted more for him.
Educating children about money before they move out is also critical for the parent. When children don’t know how to survive in the real world, they move back home (IF they ever leave!). This would be a disservice to my children because if nature goes as plans, I will die before them and they won’t know how to function without my presence. I have no plans to come back in spirit to assist them with preparing a budget! I made it a point to translate the realities of life to my children, what they do with the information is totally up to them. If they taste regret later in life, it won’t be because of me!