By SAMANTHA DELLINGER
The other day I was in the car with my 5-year-old son, Vincent, and he was talking about money.
“Mommy, you need lots of money to buy a really big house?” he said.
“Yes, that’s right,” I answered. “And that’s why you need to do well in school, so you can get a good job.”
Although, I know a good education doesn’t guarantee a high-paying job, it was enough of an explanation for this question.
“Mommy, if I get lots of money, I can buy anything I want. You can buy everything with lots of money,” Vincent chirped.
The comment made me pause, and I wondered if I should go into a philosophical conversation with my son.
I began by saying “Well, honey, money can’t buy love.”
“Yes, it can,” Vincent responded.
I explained further. “No, it can’t. I love you, Vincent, no matter if you are rich or poor. Money can’t buy happiness either.”
“Yes, it can,” he replied and quickly lost interest in the conversation.
But our talk got me thinking about how I had been spending money. And I realized I wasn’t being true to my own philosophy about happiness.
I admit that I have spent money on things that I don’t need because of how it made me feel and what I thought others might think of me.
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At one time, I owned a Lexus convertible. I loved that car. But, in truth, it never made me really happy.
Growing up, my parents never spoiled me. In fact, my dad is very frugal. He’s a coupon clipper aficionado. To this day, he still cuts coupons and, yes, even I cut coupons alongside him.
But, I find it harder to watch my spending now that I am living away from my parents and have a family of my own.
My husband and I were making good money early in our marriage. He was working hard and getting plenty of overtime, so our lives were comfortable.
Last year, things changed. My husband was let go from a company after 12 years of service. When he applied for unemployment, he was denied by his former employer. We fought the judgment, but lost.
Meanwhile, William found another job as a salesman. Unfortunately, his income was commission only, and the hours were not the best.
He found another job, but the pay was low and it was physical. However, he didn’t give up.
We appealed the original denial of unemployment. And on Christmas Eve, we found out he won his case.
It was perfect timing because William was laid off.
Soon, he found work again.
We are now getting back on our feet. We re-evaluated who we are as a family and are making a joint effort to be more conscious about our spending.
And while Vincent was right about having lots of money to buy a big house, it’s the love of the family who lives inside that’s important.
And that’s just something money can’t buy.
Samantha Dellinger is the graphic designer for Smart. For more Smart Mama columns, click here.