When I Grow Up…

This morning, this sweet little boy looked up at me from the coach with this same timid smile and said, “Mama, when I grow up and get to be an adult, and when I have kids, I’m gonna let my kids do whatever they want.” 

I smiled and patted his head. “Ok honey, you can do that when you grow up.”

What prompted this pronouncement?

Yesterday he got a crisp new $20 bill in the mail for Easter from his Grammy. This morning he remembered today was “school store” day, when the PTA buys a whole bunch of little trinkets (mostly junk) and resells it to kids for profit. I sometimes give my kids a couple dollars to spend and sometimes they spend their own money.

I told Alex he could not take his $20 bill to school and use it for school store. It’s just too much money to carry around and spend on pencils and mini erasers. $3 is the max I will let the kids spend.

Alex doesn’t yet understand that $20 is too much to take to school. Money tends to burn a hole in Alex’s pockets. Nathan knows how to save it and buy something more valuable. He also knows any money he gets goes three places, first to God, then some to savings, the rest can be spent.

After Alex’s adorably misguided statement, I decided to give each child a couple bucks from my wallet for the school store. I like to give them opportunities to assign value to goods and exchange money for them, independent of my influence.

Money is something we talk about frequently with the kids. We talk about earning money, banks, tithing and saving and budgeting. I say “No” to a lot of requests in stores simply because I do not want them to believe they are entitled to anything. When I say “Yes” to something, it’s usually backed up with a good reason.

They will never hear me say “we can’t afford that” about anything, because that would be a lie. I say “we don’t need that” a lot, and sometimes I say “that would be nice but it isn’t in the budget right now.”

Lately we talk a lot about how we are saving money for our adoption. I try to explain as much about the adoption as I can to them, and they know that it takes a lot of money for the people at the orphanage to take care of their baby sister until we can come and get her.

One of my kids, I think it was the older one but I can’t remember which, recently made a comment about how getting our baby sister is so expensive but when they were born it was free. I laughed out loud! I explained that the real cost of each of their births vastly exceeded the cost of this adoption. Both boys were born via C-section in a hospital, with numerous prenatal doctor visits and ultrasounds. Nathan spent a week in the NICU. If not for insurance, the cost of each birth would be astronomical.

But with adoption there is no insurance to cover the costs of homestudies and lawyers and fingerprints and then just basic childcare while we wait. I laugh when people say that if you can’t afford to pay for an adoption yourself, how can you afford the kid? That’s someone who has no understanding of the costs of raising a kid or the cost of an adoption. Both private domestic adoptions and intercountry adoptions cost somewhere between $20,000 and $50,000. Out of pocket, almost all at once. (Well, within a year or three.)

I digress. My goal is not to make my children happy. My job is to raise my kids with a strong work ethic and the ability to view and manage money responsibly, as a tool and not a goal. Accumulating money should never the goal. Being a conduit of blessing is the goal.

Just Between Friends Consignment Sales Rock

For the past week or so I have been busily rounding up outgrown clothing, toys, books and videos from all over my house. Every spring and fall I consign all these things at the Just Between Friends Sale for Sugar Land/Rosenberg. This event takes place over three days and brings together boatloads of great gently used merchandise for bargain basement prices. I started doing this back in Philly when my own local MOPS group hosted their own resale event and I realized what a goldmine these sales are, both for buyers and sellers. They are very lucrative fundraisers for the organizing host too.

Last week I took all the rounded up toys and clothes and piled them up near my computer and one by one I cleaned them up, made sure all the pieces were together, and carefully entered a description and price into the tagging database. I price everything to move but also to maximize my profit. My collared shirts might be $4.00 and an outfit from Gymboree with shirt and shorts might be $8.00. Certainly less than I paid for them but I also got good use out of them for one season. Maybe two if both boys wore it.

My biggest issue is finding enough hangers for the heaps and heaps of clothing I sell. I prefer not to use wire hangers since they tend to get tangled up on racks and the clothes don’t present well. Consigning clothing is very much about the presentation so I take a minute to button every single button and pair up tops and bottoms into outfits that really look cute. I’ve even learned to pin tags on in ways that don’t leave behind obvious pinholes. The little things matter to shoppers.

It always blows my mind how much clothing I have in one size because I buy incredible bargains at outlets and consignment sales. It’s a little ridiculous, but I do buy with resale in mind, knowing that if I find a Gymboree shirt for $3.99 I will likely be able to sell it for at least that if Alex can keep it clean. Of course not everything ends up resellable. Lots of ripped jeans and stained shirts must be donated to Goodwill instead, but most things are kept in good condition. Goodwill gives a nice tax write-off too.

Preparing my stuff for the sale isn’t really a ton of work now that I’ve done it for years. I can do it while I’m watching TV at night over a few days.

But is it worth it? That’s the big question every asks. Most people I know think it’s too much trouble.

At the end of the average sale I usually get a check for somewhere around $200, not to mention a huge amount of extra closet space.

This year? I’ve got almost $900 worth of stuff tagged but I know not everything well sell. I get 65% of what does sell. It’s 70% if I volunteer a shift but this week with Run 4 the Children I had no time to volunteer. So last night was the Pre-Sale…a few hours when only volunteers and consignors are allowed to shop. I logged in this morning to check my sales report and was shocked to see that I had sold $325 worth of stuff. That’s also less than half of my total items so with three days left I expect to sell the vast majority of my things. So I have *already* earned $200 and my check will only grow from there.

Worth it? Absolutely.