Remember that little poem, “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten?
Growing up, my mom had a poster that listed all of the basic skills learned in kindergarten that you would use to get through your entire life.
Reading through it, that poem was really very right. Everything you needed to know regarding food, shelter, and sharing everyone absolute DID learn in kindergarten.
I think that kindergarten went deeper than that, though. In kindergarten, each and every one of you learned everything you ever needed to know about life & money (i.e. personal finance) you learned in kindergarten:
“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):
1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first workd you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”
― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
How does this apply to personal finance, exactly?
Share Everything –
Yes, in kindergarten you learned to share your toys, snacks, and even your crayons. But sharing extends to more than just the basics. I believe in tithing – or at least regularly giving to worthy organizations. I believe that by building giving into your budget from a very early age, you set yourself up for financial success.
The discipline, selflessness, and planning it takes to regularly give is a worthy quality that it not only good to see in yourself, but your children as well.
Put Things Back Where You Found Them –
One of the keys to personal finance success is organization (sorry, you disorganized folks!). Like it or not, managing your finances is easier when you have a system. Just like with putting your toys away in an organized fashion, managing your finances cannot be done without a system that you can stick to consistently and without fail.
However, everyone’s system might not be the same – you need to find what works for you. If you’re disorganized, choose a simple system, such as a bin that all of the bills get thrown into, where you go to pay them every week (or pay period). And if you’re super organized, great! You’ve probably got this in the bag.
Clean Up Your Own Mess –
Debt is messy. Credit card debt is messy. Living beyond your means is messy. I could name a thousand other financial messes, but the same principle that applied to cleaning up the crumbs from your afternoon snack when you were a child applies to your finances as well.
We’ve all made financial mistakes. Some are big, some are small. Some are the result of really horrible circumstances, and some are the result of really bad choices. Regardless of which camp you’re in or why you’re in a financial mess, it is up to you to clean it up. No one is going to do it for you, and when it’s all cleaned up you’ll never get yourself into that mess again.
Warm Cookies & Milk Are Good For You –
When life hands you messes – or you got yourself into them all by yourself – cookies & milk are good for the soul. Taking a “milk & cookies” break to regroup, gather your thoughts and develop an actionable plan for change is the only thing that is going make for lasting change.
Live a Balanced Life: learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some –
Personal finance is NOT the be-all-to-end-all, folks. Yes, life runs so much smoother when your finances are managed correctly, but there is so much more to life than money! Health, making memories, creativity, and so many other aspects of life are much more important. Get your finances set and then step away. Enjoy the stability you’ve created.
You’ve earned it.
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