Friday, September 25, 2009

Lunch Programs and Budgets

Ever since my daughter learned about the hot lunch program in kindergarten, she's been eagerly anticipating being old enough to participate. Now let's be clear here, the hot lunch I speak of is nothing more than a fundraiser by the PAC, is delivered once a week for $3.50 and consists of either pizza from a local pizza place (Panago) or a hot dog.

So it was with very eager delight that she pulled out the order form from her backpack a scarce 30 seconds after greeting me from her class to show me.

"See, mom, you can do it if you want..... if maybe you had the money, you could do it". I looked down at her eager, hopeful face and was glad I could tell her yes, she could do it. Her face lit up, she clapped her hands and jumped for joy. I laughed to see how happy she was over such a small thing.

What's more though, I could read in her anxious wait for my answer her hesitation, Do we have the money for this? I know that's what is going on through her mind because we have had to stress a lot lately that we can't afford everything that they want to buy or do.

I think that it's a good thing for her to be aware of the limitations that we have with money. I think the key is not to stress her out about it. I don't ever want her to be lying awake worrying that we might not have money for the food on the table, clothes on her back or roof over her head. It's a delicate balance.

I either read somewhere or was told by someone that the key is to talk about is and isn't in our budget versus not having money for that. For example: "Sorry honey, we can't buy that toy because it's not in our budget." I think it's good for her to start to be aware that money doesn't grow on trees, that mommy and daddy have to work to get it and that we only get so much to cover our needs and wants. My MIL says that is what they did with their boys and their boys grew up to be frugal. Which is true. (Although on a side note, I have to say my husband is a bit of a cheap charlie, something which I've been breaking him out of. *wink*)

Still even though I believe it's a good thing, as a mom it does give my heart a little lurch when I see her anxiously waiting to hear whether or not I'm gonna let her buy a $3.50 lunch, hoping against hope that I'm not going to say no.


  1. That is so hard. It's hard to explain to kids money and how it all works...they have no concept!! I think you must be doing a great job if she's anticipating the joy of a $3 lunch!

  2. That is so sweet! And it's impressive that at such a young age, she understands the limitations of money and what's in the budget and what might not be. My kids expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter...I'm working very hard to undo that!

  3. I had not heard that about the budget and I really like it! Great advice. And I love how you are so sensitive to their tender hearts...and want to NOT worry them about money, yet still take an active role in teaching them responsibility.

    YEAH MOM!!


  4. I agree about the "It's not in our budget" statement. My 4 y/o already asks about money and I don't want her to stress about it, but need her to realize it's not a magic ATM that has an unlimited supply for us.
    I read once that we should give our kids an allowance each week that is enough for lunches and other necessities (I guess they'd be a bit older to properly manage this) and not tie it to chores. Thus trying to teach that money goes to things they need, and not teaching that the only things worth doing are those done for money. I pretty good lesson that I hope to teach...

  5. How adorable! And I agree, it is such a fine line between teaching kids the value of money yet not letting them worry about whether or not we have enough. Sigh...

  6. We talk about these things as well, and I think it is smart. Like you we talk about whether the things we want are a priority if it meant we couldn't have something else...

  7. Yea you really have to carfeul on how you explain things to them. When my munchkin was in 2nd grade the teacher gave him a note to bring home. It was about owing money. In the middle of class he balled it up, threw it on the floor and yelled "We can't do that we're broke !!!!" Needless to say I sat him down that night and talked to him about our money situations and how he didn't have to worry we had enough for everything we need, we just dodn't want to waste it on stuff we didn't need.


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