Funny, the things that shape us… and in turn, will shape our children. We were having dinner with friends and talk turned to our parents. This mom shared how she would go shopping with her mom and it was her ‘job’ to add up every item that went in the cart. When they got to the register, they knew exactly how much they had spent. That practice drives her financial habits today – she knows where every dollar is spent although, by her own admission, it is not always spent in the best places at the right time. But she knows where every cent has gone!
Later on in the week, my wife brought up the subject of grocery store trips and spending and how different her memories were shaped by her father’s unemployment and the sporadic trips that were made when there was money that could be spent. She equates financial security with stability and her very essence is tied to a life of stability and continuity. She is that person who has more savings accounts than shoes and knows every ebb and flow of her investments and returns.
While both of their memories are as children, mine are from shopping with and for my family. I often checked to see what’s in today’s weekly ad. I counted every penny too, but not as it was added to the cart, but subtracted from the total that I had to spend. It wasn’t ‘how much have I spent already,’ but ‘how much do I have left to spend?’ It was a rare trip to get to the last aisle and still have a few dollars to spare. Most often, I had two or three aisles left on my list and I was already over my allotment. The decision was looking ahead to what I still had on my list and determining what had to be removed from the cart. It was never as easy as separating the bad purchase from the good purchase… nothing, but essentials went in anyhow. It was sifting through all the good choices for the best ones or filtering the best choices so I could select what must be purchased.
It’s the little things in life that shape who we are: how we view the world, what defines comfort and security for us, what provides us with the tools to be stewards of what we are given and gifted, and teaches us how to navigate better and best decisions for what matters. If your kids are still young, have them help you shop – engage their minds and shape their habits. Have them check what’s in today’s weekly ad. You might even get a BOGO lesson for them and you!
Robin Gough-O’Brien strives to add value in every relationship, see God’s purpose in every activity, and embrace each moment of her days with joy and delight. With four adult children, her days are now spent creating a home for her wife and two dogs, working full time, and playing an active role on the board of the Sylvia Thomas Center for Adoptive and Foster Families.
“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”
– John Wesley