The value of money

Dennis Warden

Schools don’t teach it. One of the most important life lessons we can teach our children is the value of money. Whether we want to admit it or not money is an essential part of life.

Teaching our children the value of money is often overlooked. I think my life is busy now, but it’s nothing compared to when Connie and I were newly married and started our family 30 years ago.

In the beginning it’s not necessary. They are only babies. Their needs are small and the demands on parents are great — food, diapers and sleep.

But as we all know time waits for no one. The years keep flashing by and before we know it those babies are young adults.

This lesson was brought back to my attention a couple weeks ago when my wife and mother held their annual August garage sale.

Thank goodness my responsibilities in this endeavor are limited to being a price consultant for certain household items, setting up the tables and cleanup on Saturday. 

On Thursday afternoon of the three-day garage sale two young brothers in our neighborhood could not resist the temptation any longer. On their first visit, without any parental supervision, they came to the sale with wide eyes full of excitement at the valuables to be found for just 10, 25 and 50 cents.

After making their purchases they rushed home with their new-found treasures. Truly one man’s junk is a child’s treasure.

On Friday they returned only to discover in the corner of the garage our families’ discarded Christmas decorations. Another treasure trove.

That is when they discovered the grand prize, in their eyes, a six-foot Christmas tree. The price on the tree, though, was $5. More than the change they carried in their pockets.

If you think their hearts were broken and full of disappointment you’d be wrong. If you think they were going to go home and ask mom for the money you would be wrong again.

They jumped with excitement saying we can go home and do some work to earn enough money to purchase the tree. 

You’ve seen it countless times. Usually it’s the grandparents, many times a parent, that ends up purchasing anything their children or grandchildren want. The kids become spoiled, with no idea of the value of money.

Anything you work for you naturally value more than something that is given to you. Jacob learned the value of hard work and money when he started working at Walmart after he turned 16.

One of his first purchases was a TV. I tried to talk him out of it, but it was his own money. The next major purchase he made was a little red 1997 GMC Sonoma pickup.

After graduating from Missouri State University a few years ago Ethan, our middle child relayed to Connie and I his gratitude for not paying for everything for him during college.

He had witnessed first hand many of his friends who had everything provided for them after high school. They wasted their time in college, many not even graduating.

I wonder if he will remember this lesson when a politician says that Uncle Sam should provide free college tuition to everyone in America.

This is also a hard lesson for us as parents. We want life to be better for our children. We don’t want them to have to work as hard as we did growing up.

By relieving them of that burden many times we deny them the lessons they need to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Before the garage sale closed on Friday the boys returned with the money they had earned to claim their prize. In a house on Oakbrook Drive in Owensville it is truly Christmas in August for two young boys.

They are learning the value of money. Let’s make sure we teach those same values to the children in our lives.


As expected no one sent me an idea for a better name for the Unterrified Democrat.