Monday, August 02, 2010

To Buy or Not To Buy?

Recently, hubby and I had a discussion about how we should inculcate the right values to our children. We were extremely concerned about Little Missy's obsession about wanting to buy everything that took her fancy especially items with the Disney princesses and Barbie dolls.

She could browse through a simple brochure that we picked up from the cake shop and ask us for every single item in the brochure. Or she could point and asked for every doll she came across in a Disney magazine.

I've asked myself if this is just a passing phase or is this the root of a potential trap for consumerism. My mom & my aunt would often relate how I used to behave whenever I was brought to a department store. I would ask for everything that caught my eye. Instead of using that as a teaching moment, my aunt would lie that she'd need to send a pick-up truck to wait for us by the entrance of the department store to cart those stuff home for me. I wouldn't blame my aunt (who's not married and might not have any parenting knowledge for that matter) for doing that cos that was an effective way of keeping my tantrums down. I wasn't given much guidance and lesson about money management when I was little.

So 20 years after that incident, I turned into a hopeless shopaholic that chock up a 5 figure credit card debt on shopping! It took me a painful 3-4 years to completely clear off every cent of the debt that I've rolled up. With proper planning & discipline, I was fortunate to be able to rid the debt quickly. It was a lesson that I've learned through the hard way and have since kept my records clean!

With that history behind me, I am very conscious about how I should teach my children about spending wisely. The incident with Little Missy has given us a valuable teaching moment. The hubs and I have decided to nip the problem at its bud and it has to start when they are young.

We've decided not to buy things that could potentially stumble our kids into consumerism such as fanciful stuff from the big brands (if we ever do buy, it'll be a surprise reward, and not at their request for it). We will also guide them into saving up for things that they want to buy (we hope to teach them about delayed gratification). We will only buy replacements of things that they need if they are broken (in this we want to teach them about need over want).

That being said, we as parents would also need to be conscientious about the way we spend lest we set a bad example to the children. It certainly takes a lot of discipline and conscious effort to do so. I really don't wish to see my kids paving the old way I've been through so would have to work hard in this area for their sake!


Eileen W said...

Reading this post, I know you will do a great job inculcating the habit of savings to your little ones. I'm also doing that by thinking aloud whenever I am contemplating buying something as a need or want. Now my younger son will ask us whenever we want to buy something, "Do you need it or want it?". LOL!

Mama Bliss said...

Hey Eileen, I think you are better at inculcating the values of need over want... :) teehehe... I have lots to learn... I still haven't been able to teach the children about need over want yet... ;)

Cynthia said...

I think I have a few things to learn from your post!! Thanks for sharing!

Growing up my mum would always say "NO MONEY" whenever I point at something at the shops. Apparently my hubby was the same so what happens when you have 2 deprived parents who suddenly have a kid?...haha! So my first got second and third has A LOT of hand me down toys! Lucky for me I have a girl in the middle who I can indulge in once in a while. But not much. I'm over buying things.
Great post - a reminder to us all!!

Hann Hann said...

My parents tell me that I can only buy toys when there's a discount and they will only buy things I want for my birthday and Christmas.

When we go to those expo sale, my parents tell me that I can only choose one toy which I did. but end up, Mummy will pick up more than one toy for me.

Alice Law said...

LOL! I always tell my 2 years + girl, "When you start to earn money, then you can decide what to buy, as for now most of the luxury is a 'NO'!!:p

Have a nice day!