When we have kids our perspective on everything changes. Where you used to see an empty loo paper roll you now see a telescope, where you saw a bedsheet hanging up to dry you now see the basis for a fort, where you once saw a helium balloon you now see a precious possession which will bring days of fun and then eventually tears should it float away or deflate entirely.
Many parents talk about the moment they first saw their children and the tidal wave of emotion that washed over them. They felt love, of course, after all, any parent will tell you that they never knew what love was until they held their child. They felt devotion and an instant seismic shift in their priorities, a feeling that before now they been stupid. When you become a parent everything is suddenly put into perspective and the little things that used to upset you: a parking ticket, a break-up, an insult, a business loss – you see in an instant that they did not really matter at all.
Looking for proof? In the love episode of the Nextflix documentary “Babies (which you can watch here). Dr Ruth Feldman, the Director of the Centre for Developmental Social Neuroscience at the IDC Herzlia examines the biology behind our relationships between children and parents. They began a study to examine the role of oxytocin in parent-child bonding. Collecting samples before and after childbirth, they found that oxytocin in mothers rises and stays high during pregnancy and after birth. When mothers and babies touch each other the oxytocin in both rose, promoting bonding. But as we know in the 21st-century parent-child relationships cover a broader level or relationships with fathers, single-sex parents, single parents, working parents, adoptive parents playing just as active of a role in parenting. The studies showed that even if a parent did not give birth to their child themselves their oxytocin levels still spike as they bond with their newborn. The results, explained in the episode (which we really recommend watching) found that the levels of oxytocin were identical in both parents and that the surge of love and happiness came from parenting rather than giving birth.
So it’s been established that becoming a parent changes how we think about everything. So, how does it change the way we think about our personal finances?
What’s right for one kid might not be right for another…
As anyone with more than one child knows what’s right for one child may not be right for the other. One child might need to be encouraged to put themselves out there and try new things while the other needs to be cautioned before leaping from the top of a climbing frame. One might need to be warned once to stop misbehaving while the other will keep pushing your buttons over and over again until they force you to go nuclear. The right approach to one child is seldom the right approach for another.
Weirdly enough, the same can be said about credit cards. Think about it, why did you choose your current credit card? Was it the one your parents had, was it the default option recommended by the bank, did you choose it on a whim? Maybe you picked your credit card very carefully to suit your needs when you first applied for it in your early 20s. The reality is the card that suited your needs then probably wouldn’t also suit your needs now. There are many different types of credit cards on the market: low-rate cards, balance transfer cards, low annual fee cards, card linked to rewards or frequent flyer schemes. To find out which card matches your current needs, you’re going to need to do a bit of research. Luckily, more information is not hard to find, you can read more about different types of credit cards here.
You can never be prepared for everything.
When we’re saving and when we’re parenting it is more than common for our best-laid plans to go astray or for us to be taken off-guard when we least expect it. One day you might have been minding your own business when your toddler stumbled up to you and asked if caterpillars have teeth or where the wind sleeps at night. You wouldn’t have an answer for them because those are the bizarre questions and you can’t be prepared for every question that might be thrown your way. Similarly, with saving, you can’t be prepared for every setback that might be thrown your way. No matter how diligently you’re saving you won’t be prepared for your car breaking down or a surprise medical procedure. So make sure you cut yourself some slack and prepare to resiliently bounce back from setbacks that might come your way.
You always need a plan b and a plan c, a plan d…
When you’re saving you always need to be prepared with a backup plan. When you go anywhere with children you always need to be prepared to pivot, to run from wet weather, to avoid a tantrum to cope with any spill, scrape or sandbox fight. When you’re saving you need to keep a similar adaptability at the front of your mind. The market, like a young child, can be volatile. Things can change when you least expect them to and you need to be able to react quickly before much damage is done – something that all parents and smart savers have been known to do.
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