Happiness Project Update 20: Paying It Forward One Penny at a Time

23 Jan

“Feel good, be good and do good.” Author Unknown.

I’m all for this. I’m all about the good. I mean who isn’t, right? So while working on expanding some of that good, I continue on my Happiness Project quest and finished the Buying Some Happiness section in Gretchen Rubin‘s book. I liked the fact that she was realistic in most of the chapter, admitting to the fact that money does help provide options for happiness or moments of happiness, but it’s not the main mojo for it.

I concur. Money plays a factor. Most people don’t think so, or might not admit it. But I do. I came clean about it in my last HP Update.

But as I kept reading she brought up an interesting point …

“It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.”

Dude. This would never happen with chocolate. Never. I know they say “never say never,” but I’m saying it. I could never buy enough chocolate. There is no limit to the powers of the cacao bean. However, when talking about parenting and kids, curbing your enthusiasm is a definite must.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

As adults we know that there’s a line when it comes to buying things for yourself as a reward or special splurge, and turning into a crazed shopaholic with 12 different credit cards all maxed out. We get it. At least some of us do. But when you’re at the train store, or Target, or Best Buy, or Costco and your kids want you to buy them something every single time you go somewhere, that seems to be the path of a shopaholic for sure. We all want nice things and we all want them for our kids, but when it comes to them, sometimes buying them more “stuff” can do more damage than good. Sometimes teaching your kids about modest pleasures instead of instant gratification can help in their own happiness. It can help produce an atmosphere of growth, appreciation for the “good things,” and fiscal responsibility. And then you feel ecstatic as parent because you think you did an awesome job of raising someone who isn’t materialistic in a very money-oriented label-minded world. You raised someone with values and that makes you extremely happy as a parent.

For instance LEGOLAND. It is the be all and end all of trips when it comes to my four-year old. It is his mecca. It is his chocolate. Now some people have the ability to take their kids four or five times a year. We go once a year. I explained that the trip usually comes as a result of all his good behavior throughout the year and I mention some of his achievements, like sharing with his sister knowing full well she’s probably going to stomp on the toy in the end, being able to finally master penmanship and write his name, being able to transition successfully into preschool even though they have Children of the Corn-like parents roaming around,  like working hard, practicing and doing well in his little golf competition, and for being an overall good kid.

I also make him aware that we save all year-long. We put in all our spare change from every purchase into his makeshift piggy bank we created out of an old Kleenex box. We got Martha Stewart creative and thus was his LEGOLAND box was born. Quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. Even some dollar bills. Every day we’d add a little something and he’d see his savings grow.  And he wouldn’t take any money out of it no matter what. He knew he was getting closer to his goal. We ended up with about 250+ dollars last year. And he enjoyed spending every bit of it on the entrance to the park, hot dogs, chocolate cake, Lego souvenirs, and Lego memories.

Once the morning came and he saw his empty box, he said … “We need to start saving money in my LEGOLAND box so we can go again. It’s gonna take a long time. But we can do it.”

I like his perseverance. It makes me think that I have taught him something, hopefully it’s in the realm of appreciating good things when they happen to you and being able to be responsible enough with your money that you can save up for what you want and enjoy it with the people you love. Hopefully I’ve paid the happiness lesson forward, one penny at time.

17 Responses to “Happiness Project Update 20: Paying It Forward One Penny at a Time”

  1. TBM January 24, 2013 at 1:07 AM #

    I love this. We still use this concept today. We save and save and save so we can travel. Last night the better half wanted to go to the pub. I mentioned, well we could, but that’s 30 bucks less at least for our next trip (beer can be pricey here). We stayed in, watched this really whacked British show and had a pleasant evening. These lessons stick with us. I’ve never been to Legoland–is it like an amusement park. I may have to add another piggy bank to the shelf so I can visit one.

    • The Guat January 24, 2013 at 1:23 AM #

      OH! I’m hoping to be teaching lessons like these, where he thinks about “the value” of experiences and so hoping he remembers them. I like the fact that you put your goals in perspective. Beer and pubs sound great, but beer in pubs in another country sound even better, right? And yeah…LEGOLAND is an amusement park for kids. It has everything Lego related. Everything and seeing how he’s into that it seems to be a pretty amazing trip for him. Something he works toward every year. We’ll be going in March and I’m sure I’ll be telling you about it 🙂

      • TBM January 24, 2013 at 1:36 AM #

        Can’t wait to hear all about it! I’m fortunate, the better half and I have the same money mentality. Save as much as we can. Can’t remember the last time I bought new clothes. Some of my favorite shirts are over 10 years old. Both of us rather spend money on travel or having fun together. of course, i won’t be famous for fashion. I’m kinda sad that I don’t have my Umbros from college since I could wear them at the gym.

  2. lifeleadsupward January 24, 2013 at 1:21 AM #

    I love it! The gift of happy anticipation is one every child should have.

    • The Guat January 27, 2013 at 11:04 PM #

      Yeah … even as an adult I love it and my son … he definitely looks forward to it every year.

  3. 76sanfermo January 24, 2013 at 3:38 AM #

    Yes it’s a good way to teach children how to save money….
    There’s a prize at the end!

    • The Guat January 27, 2013 at 3:00 PM #

      The prize/reward at the end is always a good motivator. 🙂

  4. klsprout January 24, 2013 at 4:14 AM #

    Hmmmm…I like this idea. Our kids have earned money on their own, and have their own piggy banks, but somehow the change ends up scattered to the four winds. I like the thought of a public change depository saved for a specific purpose. We could all get in on a long-term savings project!

    • The Guat January 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM #

      Oh! It’s great. We now have a reason to always put our change in the same place and not just leave it under the cushions. I’m happy that he looks forward to his long-term savings project.

      • klsprout January 27, 2013 at 7:01 PM #

        My husband’s parents used to collect their change all year, and when the yearly vacation came, the two boys could split the money for their souvenir buying. I’m currently working backwards with my daughter – we bought some curtains that she wanted for her room, but we’re not putting them up until she completes a certain list of chores for two weeks straight. At least it gives her the concept of working for something she wants. Sometimes, we’ve had her save up for things, only to find that the item has disappeared from the Target shelves…

        • The Guat January 30, 2013 at 12:27 AM #

          Oh!!!!!!! That does suck. Having it disappear would sort deflate the balloon there. But .working forwards or backwards, no worries as long as they get they get the lesson 🙂

  5. Cayman Thorn January 24, 2013 at 5:15 PM #

    I agree wholeheartedly as per your contention that there is never a limit to one’s chocolate supply. I got some Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups for Christmas, and oh me God in chocolate heaven. I can never go back to Reese’s.

    • The Guat January 27, 2013 at 3:04 PM #

      I know right! Chocolate is so amazing there should never be a stop on the purchasing power of that commodity. OH! Oh! Those Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups are awesome. We try to get some whenever we get our produce there. Have you tried the chocolate lava cake? Dude it’s awesome.

      • Cayman Thorn January 27, 2013 at 3:11 PM #

        Oh my God, Guat. You’re such a brat. I’m gonna have to attach an extra mile to my run after checking this Lava Cake out.

        • The Guat January 30, 2013 at 12:25 AM #

          Dude Giddy Up! Put them Newbounce on 🙂


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