Mark’s son, Geoff, spends most of his time in a different spending environment than the rest of our children. This has presented some serious challenges to the way he relates to money when he’s with us. Since it’s finally our two weeks with him (the first time we’ve ever had my girls with us during the summer, which means the first two week visit with more than just Geoff present), I decided to head the money arguments off at the pass.
On Saturday morning, as we were making breakfast, I asked Geoff if he knew what a budget was. He said “yeah, it’s when you save up money for something you really want that costs a lot of money.” I spent some time explaining that budgets weren’t about saving for things, but about making sure that all of your money has a job and goes where it is supposed to go to do that job. Then I talked with him about how much our family budget is for entertainment expenses every week.
After he understood the basics about the budget, and he had some time to absorb the amount of money we have budgeted for weekly entertainment, I tasked all four of the children with thinking up free or low cost fun things to do during his visit. They were all very excited at the prospect that THEY would get to choose the fun things, and to their credit, they chose very do-able things.
Geoff seems much more relaxed and realistic in his expectations for the visit. He’s focused on asking to do things that are meaningful to him without spending money. Mark and I are more relaxed now that we don’t have to brace ourselves for the onslaught of “I Want” or, more accurately “Why can’t I have” and are looking forward to just carving out time to enjoy our two weeks.