What if our current finances cloud our ability to make decisions about programs for our kids?
There’s a simple way to prevent that from happening. We can either take money entirely out of the equation, or we can actually make it the entire focus.
Here’s what I mean. When we take money out of the equation, we pretend we’re Bill or Melinda Gates. That frees us to review a program solely on its merit. Since this is merely a mental exercise, we really don’t have to think about money at that moment.
We only bring money back into the equation if we conclude the program is something we’d like our child to participate in. And yes, at this point, we have to consider our current finances.
But since we’ve already decided our child would benefit from the program, we’re now more likely to explore creative solutions to make it happen. On the other hand, there’s no chance our child participates if we go straight to: We can’t afford it.
The opposite mental exercise (putting money into the equation) can also be helpful if our child is participating in or offered a free program. Here, we ask ourselves: Would I actually pay for this service if my child couldn’t get it for free? If the answer is no, then we may want to reconsider whether or not our child should participate.
You might be thinking . . . But why would anyone opt out of something that doesn’t cost anything?
If a program isn’t a good fit for our child (i.e. we wouldn’t pay for it ourselves), there can be a definite downside. Our child probably doesn’t have more spare time to participate in another program that better meets his needs. Or, if we try to cram that better program in as well, we risk putting our child on overload.
And what if our child doesn’t benefit after participating in various free programs? We may then shut down when we hear about yet another program. We become like folks who resist riding in taxis because they’ve already spent so much time on free buses that took them nowhere.
So that’s why we need to “play” with money in our mind. After all, it doesn’t cost us anything to do so, and it just may shine a new light on our decisions.