Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lessons Learned From An 8-Year-Old

While standing amongst all of the things I can't afford in a luxury retail store this afternoon, my attention turned to the interaction of a mother and her daughter about eight years of age. The woman was picking out designer purses and the girl curiously followed along. When the mom started to examine a purse, the eight-year-old nagged, "Check the price tag. Did you check the price tag?"

The first two requests were ignored, but by the third time the girl repeated herself, her mom impatiently replied, "Don't worry about it."

The little girl reached out, grabbed the tag, and gasped, "OH MY GOD! It's so expensive..."

As I walked away from this scene, the woman repeated what she said before, "Don't worry about it!"

I chuckled to myself. A cost-conscious third grader. How refreshing! I don't have children, so correct me if I'm wrong, but when your daughter calls you out on not checking the price tag, you've got some serious reflecting to do. What does an eight-year-old know about how much you make, the standard of living, and what you can or cannot afford, anyways? Well, maybe more than you think. To that girl, the purse isn't and shouldn't be worth as much as it was marked. It's what? 400 to 500 dollars? Even if you can very well afford it, there's no denying that it's a lot of money. It probably costs as much as a bag full toys for the little girl.

Sometimes we're so immersed in our pursuit to keep up with the Joneses that we forget the basics even a child understands: you should know what you'll be paying before buying something. As we get older, we reason ourselves into thinking that it's okay. We can tell ourselves that we make a lot of money, that we need to buy certain things to make us happy, or that the purse isn't even the most expense one there. Look at the tag. Then, step back and think about it more carefully. Don't fall into the trap of rationalizing the irrational.


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