If you didn’t notice, I didn’t write a blog last week. Don’t worry, I wasn’t slacking off. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I did take the week off of work but used it to go camping with my son’s Scout troop. Given everything going on right now, we did our own camp – location, meals, programming, everything. It was a great week, but not exactly slacking off.
If you are unfamiliar with the Scouting program, our group consisted of boys between the ages of 11 and 17. While we work on rank advancement and merit badges, there is a lot of other learning that goes on as well. As we put our own plan together, one part of the camp experience that we definitely wanted to duplicate was the camp canteen (camp store).
Aside from a nice treat (pop, candy, jerky, sugar-coated donuts), it is an opportunity for Scouts to learn about personal management in a very real and tangible way. They bring their own money, choose their own purchases, and deal with the consequences.
Let’s just say it can be pretty interesting to watch and see the different personalities coming out. We even had one Scout roasting his beef jerky over the fire. Who knew? So, let me share a couple of examples and see what we can learn.
First, I was the mean dad that made my son take his own money to use at the camp store. I figured that was above and beyond, so he could cover whatever he really wanted. I can’t always claim success with this child (he definitely has a mind of his own, and maybe a little too similar to mine for us to always get along), but this was a happy moment for me.
With no input from me during the week, he decided that, of the $10 he brought, he was only going to spend $5 over the week and save the rest for something else later.
Woooohooooo! Somebody is listening to me about saving!
On the other end of the spectrum, one of our Scouts brought $10….. per day. I’m pretty sure he spent the full $10 at least the first day.
I can’t say if the money was his or money his parents gave him. That’s not really the point.
Rather, the point is the consequences of our choices.
Do you know what happens when you consume $10 worth of junk food in an evening? Yup, there was a trip to the trees somewhere in the night so that his body could expel all of the excessive sugar and whatnot. He got sick, and it was almost definitely the candy as he was never sick again for the rest of the week.
So what can we learn about this?
We have freedom in our spending. But there are also consequences to our choices. My son chose not to enjoy quite as much immediate gratification as his friends that were chowing down. But he was also able to take money home and use it later for other things (most likely Legos).
Our other Scout decided on the immediate gratification. Now I’m not saying that all or even most of your purchases are going to make you physically ill…. although that would help a lot of people keep their spending in check. But oftentimes immediate gratification is just that – only immediate.
As you consider a purchase, are you satisfying the immediate gratification that all of us are tempted by? Have you considered the longer-term consequences of making the purchase or not?
I’m not here to tell you exactly how to spend your money. Like our Scouts at the canteen, that is something that you get to do and learn from in your daily life. I just want you to be making an intentional, informed decision on your purchases.
Is this purchase a good idea right now?
What is the long-term impact of this purchase?
Is this purchase still a good idea right now?
You might not make the best decision this time. But more importantly, what can you learn from this? Our Scout with the big canteen budget definitely kept his intake more limited over the rest of the week. That’s a victory and why we wanted to do a canteen for our Scouts in the first place.
Just like we were there for our Scouts throughout the week, you have professionals available to walk with you as you consider your spending and budgeting. The counselors at the Center for Financial Resources would be happy to spend some time with you evaluating spending habits and coming up with a plan for you to accomplish your goals. You can schedule an appointment online at CFR.LssSD.org or by calling us at 605-330-2700.
written by Breck Miller, Community Relations Coordinator
LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus| Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 |Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
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