Broke Ass Student has put together this week’s carnival of personal finance with tons of great articles. My favorites were The Simple Dollar’s post about spending money on children and Plus6 Personal Finance’s post about “buy nothing” periods.
I couldn’t agree more with the post on money spent on children. I grew up literally in the middle of nowhere in West Virginia, on a small farm. My parents made our toys, and more often than not, we made up games to play using whatever we happened to find in the woods as our props. When my husband and I have children, we will continue to save for our own retirement first. Some might see that as selfish, but if they really stop and think about it, it’s the exact opposite. By saving for the future (and letting our children know exactly what we’re doing) we’ll be teaching them the most important life lessons we can, and we’ll be protecting our children from one day having parents who are a financial burden. Those things are worth far more than a pony ride that the child can’t even remember because it happened when he was two. If parents are really honest with themselves, they’ll admit that an extravagant birthday party is really for themselves and their adult friends, not for the child (especially the first few years).
The post about “buy nothing” weeks/months/years, etc. makes a really great point. Just committing to not buying anything for a specific time period is sort of like going on a grapefruit diet. In the short-term, it will save money, since you’re not spending any. But as soon as the time period is over, are you going to go on a spending bender? (akin to a gallon of triple fudge ice cream at the end of the grapefruit diet week). Drastic solutions rarely work in the long-term, because we’re only human, and strict rules are hard to follow forever.
I also really liked the post from Finding Financial Peace on paying off a mortgage early. I agree completely. We plan to pay off our mortgage by 2017, 15 years ahead of schedule. Only someone who is truly bad at math would think that it makes sense to stretch a mortgage out as long as possible for the tax deduction, and yet that is a very common misperception.