Sometimes Less Is More

I have a very vivid memory of my twin girls' last birthday party.  You gotta picture it: our modest ranch home packed with close friends and family, balloons galore, pizza, wings, a Caillou cake (which is a story in and of itself!), and about a gazillion presents.  When it came time to open all of those glorious, glittery, girly packages, my gals could hardly contain their joy.  Gleefully, they tore into the presents, tissue and ribbons flying.

About halfway through their gift demolition, one thing among the mass of presents stopped and almost derailed the whole present-opening operation.  No, it wasn't the beautiful dresses their aunt and uncle bought them or the Dora dolls from a dear friend.  It was a package of animal crackers. 

My girls exclaimed over these famous little red boxes of animal crackers like their dad does when his beloved Buffalo Sabres score a goal.  No, more like when the Sabres score a goal to take the lead in a playoff game.  Yeah, it really was like that.

What's all this have to do with finance?  Sometimes, less truly is more.  When it comes to our kids, we always want to give them what's best, what's hot, what's current.  A lot of the time, we want give them everything they could dream of and then some.  The reality?  It's expensive!  I have yet to find that money tree or an orchard full of bushes bearing kids' gifts as fruit.  Taking a step back, before we commit our money for Junior's present, may put spending in perspective.  And it may just make our little rugrats happier, too.

Don't get me wrong, here.  I'm not saying don't buy your kiddos gifts, or only buy them cheap-o stuff.  There is a time and place for well thought out gifts that will provide many hours of entertainment.  And the "well thought out" part often leads to pursuing the gift which can in turn lead to honing in on the better deal for your money.  All I'm saying is this:  sometimes it is the little things in life that make us happy.  One really thoughtful and conscientous gift can trump oodles of meaningless things in your child's eyes.  

We can always find something more to long for in life, but is that really going to make us happier? Before you spend $1,000 on your next toy or gadget, take a moment to think: Is this giving me fulfillment or just making me poorer?

Will animal crackers make the b-day party next year for my girls?  Who knows.  Probably not.  But the subtle lesson it brought to my mind will be with me for the rest of my birthdays.

This post is part of the Carnival of Money Stories. Be sure to head over to check out some more great posts.

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Anonymous's picture

Balance Junkie wrote:

Fri, 10/29/2010 - 14:40 Comment #: 1

Been there, done that. My twins (boys) are 15 now, so we've had our share of birthday hoopla - including many parties where they spent the afternoon crawling around inside the $1 box in which the $100 toy arrived! ;)

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Fri, 10/29/2010 - 19:11 Comment #: 2

Congrats on surviving your twins' childhood (and wishing you good vibes to get through their teenage yeras!). That whole bit about how kids like playing with the boxes and paper more than the gifts - it's so true, isn't it?

Anonymous's picture

Hugger1021 wrote:

Fri, 10/29/2010 - 19:34 Comment #: 3

Wow, so true. Great article.

Anonymous's picture

Nancy wrote:

Fri, 10/29/2010 - 21:19 Comment #: 4

So very true!! A great reminder--just in time for buying all those Christmas gifts! The same gifts which are done being played with, long before the credit card bill even arrives!

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Sat, 10/30/2010 - 12:36 Comment #: 5

Thanks for stopping by, reading & sharing your thoughts! Glad you liked it! :)

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