Cultivating an Abundant Mindset

While reading through Facebook posts, I saw a conversation involving a mother saying she’s trying to teach her daughter about money. A friend told a cute anecdote about the daughter’s response to a comment about ‘can’t afford it.’

I hate those words. How limiting! If it’s a money lesson, wouldn’t it be better to at least say something like, “Well, I choose not to purchase that. There are other things I’d rather spend my money on.”

Because isn’t it really a decision, when it comes down to it?

I choose to pay for good car insurance, not for cable. I choose to buy craft supplies, local-when-possible groceries, and new-to-us goods from thrift stores and used book stores, not to buy the matching set of bath towels.

I also chose to pursue my passions in life instead of getting a degree that would lead to having plenty of disposable income. Where I am in my life, financially, is due to choices. I would be able to ‘afford’ more things if I’d chosen a money-generating career. It’s not what I chose. An answer for a child could be, “I chose to take a job I care about even though it pays less money. That means I don’t have enough money to buy X right now – but I could certainly save up for it if I really wanted to.”  Seem like a lot to try to lay out for a kid? Well, depends on age, attention span, mood, etc., but it’s really important to teach children not just what to think, but how to think, so that they can figure things out for themselves!

I want my children to understand budgeting and that money is limited. However, I also want them to know that they can pursue whatever they want. I want them to know, absolutely, that they can pursue any dream they have. It might be difficult, sure, but anything can be done. Maybe that means sacrificing something else. Maybe that means sacrificing a lot of something else’s. That’s ok!

My children are going to learn that if they want something badly enough, we can find money for it. They are also going to learn what it means to find that money – and I’m not talking about an adorable lemonade stand that costs more to the parent than the kids get in profits. Does it mean choosing to make something else less important? Are they willing to give up something old for this something new?

“I can’t afford it” are very dangerous, limiting words. Especially to a child, hearing that over and over. Will that create a mindset of gratitude and abundance? Or will that just make the world seem that much smaller, good things that much less attainable?

I want my kids to think, “How can I afford this? What do I need to do in order to reach this goal?” When they are older, I want them to understand that if their job doesn’t allow enough disposable income to save for travel, or lovely artwork, or a hybrid car, or whatever, that instead of being hindered into failure, they can figure out how to make enough money.

I don’t have very much money. But I do get many things I want, and when I’m committed to really pursuing something, I find a way. I learned my tenacity from my mother (though I didn’t really pick up the budgeting as well…). I hope that my children are able to make good choices about ‘affording’ things later in life, and I believe I’m helping them get there by never telling them we can’t afford something.

How do you approach money conversations with children?

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  1. Lawrence Winstead

     /  January 11, 2013

    I really liked this entry, Beth. I think it says a lot about how grown-up you are and also how caring and concerned you are for your children’s well-being. I tried to think of all the times I’ve told my boys that we “can’t afford it” and why I said it. My memory doesn’t work like that, though, so I’m drawing a blank. I’m sure I’ve said it, though. But I’m also sure I’ve followed it up with an explanation as to why and how we should think about saving up for it if they (or I) really want it.

    This is kind of like the push to never say “don’t” or use negatives when commanding your children. Instead, rephrase to use positives to manipulate how they see the command (or suggestion, or whatever).

    Always look for a solution to a problem, instead of simply shutting down because of it, eh?

    • Thanks. Those are kind especially meaningful words from someone who cares about his children so much.
      I’m sure I’ve used the words at some point, too. It’s just something that’s been on my radar more and more.
      It is a good idea to use positive statements – ‘no’ can be missed/forgotten so easily. If we felt like philosophizing (aka totally geeking out) we could discuss the metaphysical reasons why it’s important. (:
      Also important is sucking up the pride/ego and saying “I’m sorry” to your kids…but that’ll be another post.


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