Perhaps like other PANKS ("professional aunts, no kids"), a term I first came across on savvyauntie.com, when it came to my nieces and nephews, nothing was too silly for me to do or too expensive for me to buy if it brought a smile to their angelic faces. I relished my role as their fairy godmother who seemingly made the impossible possible. I was raising the bar for aunts everywhere, and that was a good thing, right?
The answer came loud and clear courtesy of my then five-year-old niece. One day out of the blue, she announced that she was donating her doll house to a local children's hospital. "Why?," we gingerly inquired, while congratulating ourselves for raising such an unselfish child. And she responded, "So that Aunt Linda can buy me an even bigger one." We were speechless.
By spending so freely and catering to every whim, I was leading my niece to believe that money grew on trees, rather than teaching her the value of a dollar and that getting it often takes a great deal effort. Clearly, I also wasn't helping distinguish between a "need" and a "want." I was, in effect, setting her up for financial failure. Oh the guilt!
It's been six years since that watershed moment and I'm proud to report that we both have come a long way. Although I still indulge a whim from time to time, I do establish clear spending limits before we embark on a shopping excursion and I look for opportunities to share financial parables. My niece has proven to be a super-savvy saver, discriminating shopper as well as a service-minded young lady.
Regardless of whether someone calls us mom, we send financial cues to the children and adults in our lives in ways big and small. So, in 2011, I hope you will join me in being the best MOMM - "maven of my money" - ever by showcasing your fiscal sense.
To all of the moms, grandmoms, aunts and PANKS out there, what are some of the ways you keep your financial wits about you when shopping with the angelic children in your life? I'm always looking for some new financial defensive strategies!
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