Money Madness

by Abby on October 5, 2011

Alex P. Keaton from "Family Ties"So, the economy: still bad. What’s up with that? As you can probably tell from my scintillating conversation on the subject, I’m no financial genius. But thanks to my fiscally-savvy parents I did have a savings account at a young age, with my very own bank book. If you were born in the dark ages before online banking and Mint.com like me, you know that’s a small book where you recorded your transactions. I could probably donate mine to the Smithsonian. I also had a subscription to the now-defunct Penny Power magazine, aka Consumer Reports for kids. That seems like something Alex P. Keaton would read, doesn’t it?

The point is, I had a sound financial education, so it was a terrible shock for me to grow up and find out that money is unbelievably complicated when you’re a grownup. All that mortgage and escrow and home equity business? The words alone give me a migraine. Then there are 401k’s and 529 plans, interest rates and credit scores, about 7 different kinds of taxes and insurance and all the bills, bills, bills — someone, please! Make it stop!

In all my years of schooling, the closest thing I had to practical life-skills training was home ec and wood shop. And while my parents do still have the — rather “rustic” — bookcase I built, learning to make throw pillows and crepes was wasted on me. Clearly my teacher did not know that Target and take-out would factor heavily into my future.

I hear that schools now teach basic money-management classes. I think it’s a GREAT idea. I was more than a little worried the day my son asked for a new toy and I said, “And where will we get the money to pay for it?” He told me to just go to the “money store.” Um, son? That’s called a bank.

As a single working woman, I got a little smug about money. There was always enough and that’s all that mattered. Of course, I was living with a bunch of roommates in crappy apartments so my rent barely ever cracked three digits. And I didn’t have to pay for things like sump pumps, formula, diapers, tuition, and organic fruit snacks. Man, I didn’t know how good I had it!

Then I grew up and became irate when my health insurance wouldn’t cover prenatal iron supplements. We bought a house and had no choice but to fix the leaks, replace the old appliances, and deal with the constant parade of wildlife infiltrating the house. And then there’s those pesky heating and water and property tax bills that just keep on coming.

I have to say, it’s a little scary when the news is full of foreclosures and bankruptcies and stock market dips and rising gas prices. Because with 2 little people to feed and clothe and educate, it’s not like you can stem the flow of expenditures that much. This month alone we’ve shelled out for fundraisers, charity donations, teacher gifts, birthday, shower, and wedding gifts… Plus the boys must be going through growth spurts because they’re eating their weight in Cheerios and cheese sticks. Not to mention needing new shoes.

In my younger days, I would have said I would love to have lots of money so I could buy cool clothes or go on exotic vacations. Now, I would love to have the money to buy my son’s entire kindergarten class iPads, like this school. Times sure have changed. I wish Penny Power were still around. Maybe it could give me some tips in terms I could understand.

LINK O’ THE DAY: A funny story about a mom trying to steer her young son away from a life of crime. (Cartoons are always to blame, aren’t they?)

2 Broke GirlsSHOW O’ THE DAY: The new CBS comedy “2 Broke Girls” is a welcome change from all the “Gossip Girl”-type shows about filthy-rich twentysomethings in amazing Manhattan apartments. Warning: it’s a little raunchy, since it’s from the creator of “Sex and the City.” But I think it’s funny. Especially the blonde girl, who plays the disgraced daughter of a Bernie Madoff type.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Basi October 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

We are always feeling that there’s less than we’re comfortable with, but at the same time, we’re very blessed. I’m a big believer in generics and homemade gifts for teachers (you know, pumpkin bread, that kind of thing), and in being very measured and…well…cheap, with birthday gifts. Because kids have so much anyway that they don’t need more, really. One of the best ideas I ever saw was a family who gave the birthday child a day out with their family–a long playdate, zoo, farm visit, I don’t remember what–but it was something very different from the standard fare of more useless junk to fill up a house. (Not that I have strong opinions or anything. 😉 )

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Abby October 5, 2011 at 9:19 am

Oh, I am SO with you on the no-more-useless-junk thing. I think that’s what bugs me most about the kid gifts — unless I KNOW the kid will enjoy it and use it, it’s a waste of money for me and more clutter for them. I love the idea of an activity in lieu of a toy. In fact, we’re asking our relatives to chip in for a zoo membership or swim lessons instead of toys this Christmas.

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Lacey October 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Oh My Gosh!! I found your blog a couple months ago (The original Diary of a New Mom blog) and I have steadily read my way through every post from the beginning! Its kind of ridiculous how excited I am that I’ve finally caught up. 🙂 Love your blog!

Though I should probably admit that I originally found your blog through researching people’s thoughts on kids verses no kids (my hubby is dying for them) and I can’t decide if your blog makes me really want kids, or really not want them. Probably both – depending on my mood and the post haha! Keep it up!

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Abby October 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Oh no, Lacey! I would be devastated if my blog made you not want kids! The thing that’s impossible to put into words is how wonderful it is when they’re YOURS. Birth, colic, poop, all the craziness — it’s ALL worthwhile when it’s your own baby. Thank you so much for reading! I’m glad you enjoy my blog. 🙂

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