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Friday, September 13, 2013

A Five Year-Old's Education of Debt

I found out recently that in the local schools, if you forget your lunch money, you can still get lunch on credit. How wonderful that the sweet children won't be allowed to go hungry for a few hours.

As a result of this, if you forget your ice cream money, you can also get that on credit. If your friend forgets her ice cream money, you can get it for her on your credit, too. In fact, borrow to get a round of ice cream for all your besties! 

One Mom told me that her daughter was distressed because she had racked up $30 in lunch room debt by buying snacks for her friends. Thirty dollars isn't a big deal. Just write the check, right? It is a big deal because of what it teaches our kids. 

If we don't let our kids experience the negative consequences of their actions, we are teaching them that there are no negative consequences.

If the school system is teaching him that he can charge his lunch to his account, we have to work extra hard to teach him debt is bad.

Didn't plan ahead to pay the electric bill? Charge it. Didn't save up to buy a new car? Borrow for it. Can't pay rent? Mom and Dad will let me live with them. Want nicer stuff? Want to give generous presents? Charge it.

We have to teach out kids that it's not okay to borrow. You have to save up in order to buy the stuff you want. Be prepared for what might happen.

My son brings his lunch every day, but we put $10 in his account to be prepared for the day we might forget his lunch or not have time to make it. When I told him about that money in his account, he said "No no no no no, Mom. You don't have to do that. They give us a special card. It's like a credit card, but not, and you can get lunch with it." When I tried to explain to him that credit is bad, he just looked at me with his "I know I'm right, but I'll be quiet about it" face.

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