Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Living the American Dream

Aren't we all dreaming of a nice house in the suburbs, surrounded by white picket fences, two children, two cars in the drive way, a cat and a dog and enough money in our bank account not to worry about our future? I think the American Dream isn't much different from ours. But how about happiness, health, love, friendship, family, joy and freedom? Isn't that more important and all that really matters? I agree, having a nice house is very welcome and comfortable. Not having to share cars is as pleasant and so are the cat and the dog. But what is the meaning of all these material items if you aren't happy? We all need money to live. If you only have enough money to survive, times can be real hard. I've been there. As long as you are living by yourself, you can cope. It's not that important if you eat nothing but cereal all week. Hot meals aren't that important, if it means freedom to you. Once you have a family and children, things change though. You want nothing but the best for your beloved ones. You want them to grow up in a good home, without any shortcomings.

Our children are doing well and they have everything they need. They are dressed and fed, they have activities to attain, they have a cosy bed and an allowance for their special treats. I'm sure they would want a whole lot more if they could choose. But they don't ask for it. All they want, is to have their mom and dad around to take care of them. They like this special one-on-one attention, an extra cuddle, someone to catch them whenever there's a chance they might fall. They need a shoulder to cry on, an arm to embrace them and a pair of good ears to listen to their life stories.
I hope our children will grow up to become good adults. I hope they will understand life isn't a game and money is not some piece of paper you get from an ATM machine. It's hard work. It means making sacrifices. It takes organisation and effort to save money. And that's what we want to teach them, so they will be able to make the best decisions in life. Both daughters have a checking account, a savings account and their own bank card. We would never ever take money from their accounts for our own pleasure. It's their money and they are fully entitled to it.

I hope - in a couple of years - they will find themselves some job to do on the weekends or during school holidays. It will teach them that they get rewarded for working hard. It will give them the opportunity to save some money, so they can move out and start their own life if they are ready for it. Things were different for both my husband and I. We didn't have a penny when we met. We had worked hard before we left the nest, but neither one of us was entitled to the savings we had put in our account. It was hard, but we survived. And it made us realize there is more to life than money. Happiness is much more important. Money can be replaced, if you work hard enough. It gives you stability and independence and you don't owe anyone an explanation of whatever you would like to spend your own money on.

Our oldest daughter is doing really good at saving money. She's studying economics in school and she's very aware of what things cost in life. She compares prices and saves for whatever she wants to buy.
The younger daughter has recently got her own bank account and she needs a little more guidance. She's a caring and giving personality - she would treat all of her loved ones with presents. We are still teaching her to save some money and not spend it all. She's a fast learner though. I'm convinced she'll get the hang of it pretty soon.

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