My 10 year old son, Coco, is growing up. In doing so, he is beginning, very recently, to question the decisions I make and the things I do. As of late, the things he has been questioning have to do with saving money, or, as I choose to call it, being frugal.
When Coco was younger he accused me of being cheap. I kindly explained to him the difference between being cheap and being frugal.
Cheap – low in price; worth more than its’ cost.
Frugal – sparing or economical with regard to money or food.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, there isn’t really much of a difference in the definition of the words. However, being a word person, I like the sounds of, and the definition of, frugal much more.
I am also trying to teach my son the art of delayed gratification.
Delayed Gratification – the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward.
Last week Coco wanted a new basketball. We went to Sports Authority, and, he found the basketball he wanted. He had a $20 gift card to the store, however, the basketball he wished to purchase was $45.00. He had his own money, mind you, to add to the $20, and, therefore, he could more than afford the new basketball. However, in my mind, why pay full price for something if you can get it for less?
Usually, at least once a week, I get an email, from Sports Authority, with a 20% off coupon from the store. I suggested, to Coco, that he wait to purchase the ball until I got one of the 20% off coupon emails. He wasn’t real receptive to the suggestion. I explained to him that 20% off was a savings of $9. Again, he really didn’t care. Which, in all honesty, bothered me. I mean, $9 is a decent amount of money. I want my son to realize that, and appreciate it. I told him that by waiting for a coupon that he would be keeping that $9 to spend on something else, instead of Sports Authority having $9 additional dollars in their pocket. His response, “What does $9 really get you anyway?” Oh my goodness, really!?!
I told him that $9 would buy his sister, Lou, him, and I, all frozen yogurt from his favorite frozen yogurt store, or, that it would buy him a box of baseball cards. Both items seemed to peak his interest. Although, he was still a little annoyed. I told him at the end of the day, to save the money, or not, was his choice. That if he could wait, no more than a week, that he could have his basketball, and, $9 additional dollars in his pocket. Plus, he has a basketball at home that works just fine. And, on top of it, the weather wasn’t nice and he wouldn’t be able to play ball the rest of the day anyway. He turned, and walked, begrudgingly, toward the door. He said he would wait.
Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait too long. The very next day, while shopping at the grocery store, I got a 20% off coupon at the end of checking out. My response, “Well, Coco, how does it feel to know YOU are going to save money by MY spending it? And, it only took one day to get that coupon!” He at least smiled at me. As we walked out of the store, he said to me, “Mom, you would save a penny if you could, wouldn’t you?” And I told him, “Yes, Coco, I would.”
When I worked I never cared about money. Don’t get me wrong. I still didn’t go on crazy spending sprees nor spend money carelessly. However, I also didn’t focus on it like I do now. I didn’t cut coupons. I didn’t have a budget spreadsheet on which I entered every single penny we spend. I had no interest in grocery ads. I bought everything I needed at one grocery store. It didn’t matter to me if I could get a better deal on my produce at another store, nor, if laundry detergent was cheaper at Target. I worked, and was busy, I didn’t have time, or, perhaps I didn’t choose to make the time, to go to multiple stores.
Ever since I quit working, almost 7 years ago now, I have paid a lot of attention to finances. Where and how do we spend our money? If we are buying something can we get it for cheaper somewhere else? Will the store I am buying something from take a competitor’s coupon? I am smart in my purchasing and shopping. I have a strategy. I look at all the various grocery stores ads, every week. I have one grocery store that I buy the majority of our food from. However, if another store has things I need on sale, as I find myself near that store during the course of the week, I swing in and grab what I need. I don’t go out of my way to those stores. That defeats the purpose of trying to save money. Yet, there is definitely a method to my madness!
Just last Friday I bought the majority of our groceries. Today we went to a different store and bought pasta, hamburger, Gatorade, fruit snacks and yogurt. Yes, we only bought those five things. However, in doing so, we saved 44% off our bill!! The total came to $37, and I saved $29! My son really doesn’t care about that $29 we saved. Well, he doesn’t think he does. However, that $29 means I will take my children to the movies today. That $29 is money that is in my pocket, instead of in the grocery stores.
Back to that penny, that I would save if I had the choice….
I am trying to teach my children that pennies add up. Each one, individually. They may not look like much. Yet, many of them, together, they truly do make a difference. I may no longer work, and therefore, not contribute financially to my family. However, I can be smart and responsible about how we spend the money we need to. You see that is my role. In my family. I am not the bread winner. I am not even the bread contributor. Instead, I am the one who spends every penny that needs to be spent, wisely. I think that makes me a wise one. A very, very, wise one. Now, if I can only teach my children the benefit of that penny and the benefit of my role….
Originally Written 15Jun15