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Just a Guy Dealing With Money, Money, Money

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Bruce Sallan: Potential lessons abound today, as we're living through the worst financial crisis of my and my boys' lives. My boys will gain wisdom from this. So will I. Things often taken for granted will no longer be. I will live the life I preach and take the same, at times, harsh medicine I'm asking them to swallow.

man standing infront of a pile of cash

The other day I was helping my younger son set up his computer. He inherited my old one. I looked around his room and realized the extraordinary amount of "things" he possessed and that he'd known no other way of living. There was a TV, DVD player, two or three portable video game devices, an "old" and "new" cell phone, and more boxed DVD sets than they carry at Blockbuster. And, now, his own computer, albeit a "used" one. Nah, the lessons they'll learn will serve them well.

My son's Bar Mitzvah will no longer take place at Staples Center in L.A. with limos for everyone (just kidding about the limos). Allowance now is definitely earned, not a given. There are real chores for the boys to do. Don't do the chores; no allowance. Wow, like the real world. I'm not happy about giving up my daily chai latte, but I know this is going to be good for my boys.

My boys now get their books and DVDs from the library. We order them online and they wait till they come in. Imagine that, delayed gratification. Eating out is now limited to special occasions and our housekeeper now comes every other week. The boys now know what a vacuum cleaner is! We go to the market only when we have a full list of items to buy. The AC doesn't go below 78, the heat doesn't go above 65, and showers aren't endless anymore. It's a beginning to the end of their childhood, and the beginning of their mature-a-hood. I hope. But, what do I know, I'm just a guy.

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19 comments so far | Post a comment now
Rayna April 18, 2009, 1:59 PM

This makes so much sense! Great blog!

Newoman April 18, 2009, 2:36 PM

Bruce, you bring so much common sense and clarity to subjects we are all dealing with. I find your articles very helpful, and fun to read. Keep em’ coming!!!

Denise Melnick April 18, 2009, 2:58 PM

We are all struggling in this crazy economy. Teaching our kids that life isn’t a bed of roses and that money does not grow in trees is an invaluable lesson. Thanks Bruce for once again giving us moms a male’s point of view. Looking forward to your next blog. Denise

Traci April 18, 2009, 11:09 PM

So true…and so important. Maybe the recession is a blessing in disguise? Thanks for putting it out there Bruce!

Ruty April 19, 2009, 2:46 PM

I couldn’t agree with you more … I command you for taking this ‘new and improve’ way of living. I hope you get more people to live simply. We want to hear more from you.

Carolyn April 19, 2009, 3:51 PM

I couldn’t agree more. In these trying times, we’ve all got to wake up and do what needs to be done. The library has become a new friend for me and my family. Also, having that “book due” deadline encourages reading more of the time. We live in an affluent area, but I’m proud that my kids don’t take things for granted. They know we can’t do everything their friends do because our current situation doesn’t allow it. It’s because of this, I feel my kids appreciate things a lot more than their friends do. If this financial crisis results in my kids being better human beings, then that is the silver lining I hold onto. Keep writing, Bruce. You’re a spokesperson for us all.

Wendy April 19, 2009, 7:47 PM

It’s amazing how much kids have and all they get to do! I’m going to try to keep doing the things that I feel will make them a better person. There is much that I can cut out and it seems that everyone is going through the same thing. Thanks for your very to the point thoughts.

Monica April 19, 2009, 9:01 PM

Good on you Bruce! The lessons you teach your children today will definitely serve them in the future.

It’s too bad most families needed an economic apocolypse to change their ways instead of being more financially responsible from the beginning. We’ll see how long “Less is More” mentality lasts! Hopefully it’s here to stay…


Danielle Hoston April 20, 2009, 12:30 PM

Great tips, Bruce!

Children learn their attitudes about money directly from their parents and it looks like you ar edoing a great job of showing them the right way…

One tip… how about changing the word “allowance” to “earnings”?? :-)

Bruce Sallan April 20, 2009, 12:40 PM


UR right on with that suggestion. The whole point is to teach them that their chores are analogous to work, therefore calling the money they receive “earnings” instead of allowance only emphasizes that point. In fact, I’d go one step further by saying that giving an allowance defeats the exact purpose of teaching them about earning money in a job! Thanks for the feedback!

Diane April 20, 2009, 4:38 PM


I think that giving our children real responsibility is very important, and is much better than them taking every thing for granted.

Luke April 20, 2009, 11:21 PM

Library is my favorite!

It’s funny (or sometimes not at all) that there are many places where kids are expected to do all that and much, much more for room and board, not allowance. I was not one of those kids.

Colleen April 21, 2009, 12:41 AM

I like your idea of ordering dvds from the library. I hadn’t thought of that. I think kids are going through a time now that will give them character. What do they say? You can’t make tea unless you have hot water.

Adrienne April 22, 2009, 12:12 AM

Hi Bruce, great blog and great job parenting.You are teaching your boys important lessons. While no one is particularly crazy about the uncertainty of the times, there is a welcome relief having an “excuse” to put a halt to the ever rising crescendo of reckless and thoughtless materialism that has impacted all our lives in one way or another. Easy enough to fall into the trap- far easier than teaching our children (or remembering ourselves) discipline and the value of things. Parents as well as kids will be the better for it. As will our country.

Linzy Ross April 23, 2009, 1:39 PM

Oh Bruce,
“Delayed Gratification” WHAT A CONCEPT. Wish my parents had been so wise. Good for you setting an example and paving a new way for families to survive.

Shortrib April 25, 2009, 11:15 AM

Bruce, Couldn’t agree more! Kids have to be taught the basics in running a household and that money doesn’t grow on trees. The entitlement attitude that kids have these days is rampant. The “Gilded Age” has created a generation of lazy, ungrateful kids who are all in for a rude awakening. Parents beware teach them now or they’ll never be independent, fully functioning, contributing adults in our society. Great column!

Dear old dad April 27, 2009, 12:59 AM

Life is a good teacher. If we control the purse strings then we have a chance at teaching these lessons to those we care so much about in a more manageable way than life. Better to learn the ‘fulfillment curve’ at 15 then 25. (Your Money or Your Life by Robins) How lucky are we to be woken from our parenting stuper of parenthood. Keep writing Bruce!

Michelle April 29, 2009, 12:43 AM

Great stuff notice how they don’t teach wealthy 101 in school? Greating good grades to get a good job is so ridicluious in todays world. I wouldlovefor you to write about that!

Anonymous May 20, 2009, 12:53 PM

Money is such an important topic for kids. We don’t address it enough. When I was growing up it was like an economic crisis every day in our household. At times it was really difficult and I was often jealous of my friends who seemed to get whatever they wanted, but now I am so grateful to have the tools to weather this economy—- I’m actually used to living within my means and knowing when I need to cut back. It is all about delayed gratification and frustration tolerance.

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