Tag Archives: Hand To Mouth

Daddy, Are We Properly Leveraged In Our 457(k) Fund?

What should you tell your little dudes and dudettes about how much money you make?

It’s a question some people don’t have to worry about. After all, if you’re living hand to mouth, from paycheck to paycheck, then the question of finances and affordability is something that will be discussed at length and among most of the family.

However, if you are lucky enough to be able to make a good living, are in a situation in which you can afford to purchase most if not all of the items your child wants or needs, then you’ve certainly got a couple of decisions to make as your child grows older and a bit more inquisitive.

Money talks. It also shouts and screams and, on occasions, yodels.

Still, no matter how much noise money makes, we like to keep how much we have a bit of a secret. For that reason, a lot of parents will withhold their annual salary or their total net worth from the young dudes in the house. After all, you wouldn’t want the little dudette to go around bragging to all her friends that you make a ton of money, especially if their parents don’t make that much, so they would feel bad. Or the reverse.

If you’re the type to hold back how much money you have from your young dude for whatever reason, then you’ll need to consider a few things when the inevitable question comes up.

Firstly, you need to determine just how ready the little dudette is to hear the answer.

It’s probably pointless to give a straight answer on income to a child who hasn’t gotten beyond three figures in math class. The same thing is true with a 10- or 12-year-old math whiz if you haven’t yet explained to them all of the costs involved in your daily life. Context matters, a lot.

If your little darlings learn you make $32,000 a year, they’re liable to think they’re rich and begin upping their Christmas expectations accordingly. Mostly because they haven’t factored in the appallingly high cost of, for instance, raising several little yard apes.

Speaking of context, when the question does come up, you might want to steer the conversation back around to trying to find out why your little dude wants to know about money. Are they worried about being kicked out of their house because they overheard an argument about money? Are the trying to figure out how much they’ll have to make when they get a job so they can still live like they’re used to doing with you? Are they in an appendage-measuring contest with the kid down the street and trying to see who’s richer?

Reasons, like context, matter. Frivolous reasons merit frivolous answers that will, while not actually proffer a lie, then fluff the little dudette off with no actual numbers, but a vague sense of the correct answer.

Other curious children may be trying to figure out what they would need to earn to have a life as an adult like the one they have as a teenager. In that case, you could talk about salaries for jobs like the ones they’re interested in, deflecting the conversation away from the jobs you have.

Or, if you have a child on your hands who is truly ready, you could just answer the question without a lot of heavy breathing.

My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Bringing Home The Bacon Right And Not Letting Me Forget I’m A Man, and I decided that we would go the comparison route. We didn’t name actual numbers, but we did say we’re well off. That is, we’re not rich, but we make enough money combined that the kids don’t need to worry about money for reasonable expenses.

We’re not going to be going out and buying a top-of-the-line sports car for each little dude as they reach 16, but they won’t be walking everywhere either.

How you do it is up to you. However, like most things in parenting, preparation makes it much easier.

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Giving Gifts With A Little Meaning This Year

by Richard

My family — my extended family of relatives and friends — isn’t poor. We’re not living hand-to-mouth. In fact, if you wanted to stretch the definition, you might say the dudes and dudettes in my family are doing pretty all right.

Normally around this time of year, we pick names out of a hat and give gifts to those whose names we’ve drawn, and begin making lists of small gifts to give to friends to show them they are appreciated.

It seems as if the season devolves down to giving out gift cards. Wheeee!

I’m not excited about that. So I decided to make someone else’s day much brighter.

Instead of giving a gift card, I’m going to give a chicken. Or a goat. Or school uniforms. And I’m going to give those things to people who actually need them. And I’m going to do it in the name of those folks who are on my gift list.

I know there are a rather lot of organizations like this, but I’ve found one that makes the most sense to me: Heifer International.

This is a fantastic website and a wonderful, if a bit self important, catalog, billing itself as TheMost Important Gift Catalog in the World.

Inside, you’ll find ways to make someone’s life worth living again.

There are projets to help refugee camps in Rawanda, projects to put safe and effective roofs on shacks in villages throughout the third world, projects to give chickens to poor families, projects to help offer school uniforms to children who can’t afford them.

Whatever kind of project you can think of that is transforming the lives of someone not nearly as fortunate as you are (and, considering you’re reading this on a computer somewhere and you have the time to spare from getting something to eat or a place to sleep, you’re pretty fortunate) and who will really live a changed life after your help.

There are so many charity organizations like UNICEF, your local equivalent of the Second Harvest Food Bank, whatever. You can help someone learn to read through RIF. Google charitable giving and you’ll find an overwhelming number of needs and organizations ready to fulfill those needs.

Instead of giving a gift card or whatever that will be thrown into an increasingly large stack and then basically forgotten once the wrapping paper is thrown out and the thank-you notes written, consider saving or transforming someone’s life.

You will feel better. You will enjoy your life more.

And you will have shown someone, somewhere that life is not an endless series of humiliating, crushing obstacles erected to make his or her life miserable, but that there are people who care and people who want them to succeed.

That sounds like a hell of a good present to me.

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