The skill that has been on my mind lately is how to stretch a dollar. I never thought much about where I spent my money earlier in life. As a kid I didn't have any money so it was none of my concern. It was for the grown-ups to worry about. In college I still didn't worry about it because...well I was a college kid. The weekend party was more important than the amount of money in the bank. As some of my old bank records surely show, I spent money whether I had it in the bank or not. When I graduated from college I was single for 5 years. I had a good job and no real debt to worry about. As you might imagine I was handing out money like Jimmy Conway on Goodfellas.
Later in life things come along that change the way you spend money. The first thing is marriage. Now you are spending money for two rather than one. For the first time in my life I had to consider someone else. It is not a good thing that I made it this far without learning to share, but somehow I did it anyway. After marriage the next step is certainly children. Now we have a beautiful boy that is the focal point of our spending. I am not complaining about any of this. Your children should be the focal point of not only your money but your attention as well. I am only noting how stretching a dollar is a skill. Some people learn it earlier in life while others like myself only learn it when it is absolutely necessary.
This is a natural part of becoming a husband and a father. When you have those titles your focus has to shift from yourself to the others that you care about. I think this line of thinking is why several guys I know will probably never get married. They are unable to give up being the most important person all of the time. Before marriage and fatherhood a new fishing rod was a necessity right along with food and clothing. After having children you learn that is a luxury item that you probably don't need right now. Before having children eating out whenever you felt like it was common place. Now there is a pantry full of quick and cost effective meals. Before having children I loved going to the track. If you read regularly you know that I still go to the track occasionally. Track visits show that I still have some money management skills to learn because that is not the best use of our money.
I don't mean for this post to sound like a bitter dad that can't spend money on himself. I am merely noting the changes that have occurred. We are using coupons, bargain hunting, and all the other things you can do to stretch a dollar. I think I am getting better at this skill although I will probably always struggle. Somewhere in this rambling post lies one of the true beauties of fatherhood. The things you would do for your children know no bound. I certainly would give up the track, the new rod, eating out and anything else for Braden and Arica. I would eat bologna and ramen noodles for the rest of my life if that is what it takes. Stretching a dollar with your family is a million times better than spending freely alone.