Spend Time with Your Family, Not Money

I've been slightly stumped this week on article topics, so in a moment of enlightenment I turned to a very erudite gentleman and asked for his suggestion on a "family finance" topic. His prompt response:

"Spend time with your family, not money."

Brilliant! If you stop to think about it, much of the money we spend as families does indeed go to entertainment type expenses. In search of entertainment, we eschew family board games in favor of ten dollars tickets to the multiplex, where we purchase huge and overpriced tubs of food and drink that are bad for us. Looking for time together, we dine out at restaurants with long lines and super sized portions rather than throwing hot dogs on the grill and inviting the neighbors over for an evening. Hoping to create lifelong memories, we max out our credit cards to cart our children to overcrowded amusement parks and spend time and money purchasing stuff we hope will remind us of the trip rather than hiking at a local national park or swimming in a nearby lake.

We do these things with the best of intentions — we want to give our families the best. But we often do so at the expense of our peace of mind and despite the knowledge that we are doing harm to our family finances. What our children want and need is our time, not another stuffed animal mouse. What we as parents crave is a relationship with our children that will be nurtured into their adult years. Look at any close family and ask them the key to their happiness and it is doubtful that they will tell you, "We stayed in four star hotels every summer and ate out three nights a week."

It's not wrong for us to want to give our children the world. What is wrong is for us to forget that we are supposed to be the "grown ups" in the equation — the ones who teach our kids that living within our means and not being overly reliant upon debt makes sense financially, emotionally and spiritually. So next time you are struggling with balancing the family budget, remember these words of wisdom:

"Spend time with your family, not money."


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at LisaHendey.com.

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