Kids & Money: Charging to the Room

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Elena Key

Elena is a Southern Baptist missionary serving in Brazil now for 31 years. She is the wife of my loving husband, a mother to three wonderful young adults, mother-in-love to a wonderful daughter-in-love and a soon to be son-in-love, and grandmother to two precious little ones. Her undergraduate degree is in Music Education and she has a Masters in Educational Leadership which she started before she had children. At age 50, she went back to school and finished her degree in 2014. She has the gift of encouragement and has tried to use it to encourage those God has brought into her life.

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Jonathan is in the blue shirt on the left. This is December 1991.
Jonathan, age 9, is in the blue shirt on the left. Cristina is on the right. This was December 1991.

It was that time of year again. We were going to the missionary convention at a hotel in the state of Sao Paulo. The new thing was that kids 9 and over were getting to room together. Jonathan was given two roommates around the same age: Josh and John John.

We got the boys settled in their room. They were all so excited. Then we went to our room.

The week at the convention was wonderful as always. We learned a whole lot, sat through a lot of meetings, worshiped God together, and enjoyed the camaraderie of our fellow missionaries.

At the end of the conference when we went to check out of the hotel, we found out the boys had racked up about $100 worth of expenses. Needless to say we were very surprised and called in the boys to find out what had happened. They said they would go play games in the arcade room of the hotel and would charge it to their room. They had no idea how much they were spending.

Old School Arcades

There wasn’t anything left to do but to divide the bill between the three families. So we paid for the bill and then had a heart to heart talk with Jonathan talking to him about the fact that our family lived off of a budget and that we had to plan for any expenses.

We explained that he would have to pay back every penny of what he had spent as this was an unplanned expense that he had made on his own without our permission; therefore, he was responsible for paying us back. We came up with a plan for him to pay us back over a time period from the weekly allowance that we gave him. During that time he didn’t have money for the normal things he liked to spend his money on.

It taught him the value of money and the consequences of spending what you didn’t have. It taught him that the choices you make in life have consequences. If we had covered the expense and had not made him pay us back, this valuable lesson would not have been learned.

One of the biggest lessons we taught our children was to set aside money to give, save, and spend. Having fun was a good thing but there had to a plan beforehand. Spending money without a plan can lead to serious trouble and heartache. Don’t you think?

Thanks for taking the time to read! Here’s a more recent picture of our growing family today.

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Key’s – December 2014

Further reading:

Dave Ramsey: Money Lessons Kids Aren’t Taught in School

Forbes: The Art of Raising a Superstar

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1. To seasoned parents: What important lessons or values did you teach your kids when they were growing up?

2. To newer parents: What important lessons or values do you want to pass onto your kids?

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About Elena Key 2 Articles
Elena is a Southern Baptist missionary serving in Brazil now for 31 years. She is the wife of my loving husband, a mother to three wonderful young adults, mother-in-love to a wonderful daughter-in-love and a soon to be son-in-love, and grandmother to two precious little ones. Her undergraduate degree is in Music Education and she has a Masters in Educational Leadership which she started before she had children. At age 50, she went back to school and finished her degree in 2014. She has the gift of encouragement and has tried to use it to encourage those God has brought into her life.

27 Comments

  1. What a great blessing in disguise! I’m sure Jonathan at that age wasn’t happy to have to work it off, but it most likely made a great impact!

    This story reminds me of a story where my brother went to a fishing tournament with my dad and it wasn’t unlimited free wifi at that time. He fell asleep streaming music and ended up with an extra $400 bill on the hotel bill. My dad ended up working it out of him though.

    Great story, thanks for being transparent and sharing!
    Steve @ MyFamilyOnABudget recently posted…We Finally Closed Our Credit Card AccountsMy Profile

    • Hey Steve. You are welcome. Glad your parents realized the importance of having your brother feel the consequences of his actions too. I’m sure it helped.
      Elena

    • Andi, you are right. Jonathan actually had an allowance at the time and took it with him but went overboard on the games. It was a valuable lesson for him.
      Elena

    • Caroline, you are very fortunate to have had parents who taught you the importance of money and how to manage it. Thanks for your comments. Elena

  2. I love Brazil. My husband and I was able to go to Jacuma, (near Joao Pessoa) on a Mission’s trip in 2009. Money lessons taught this way to children are never forgotten. Good lesson. 🙂

    • Felicia, we are so grateful God has allowed us to serve for the past 31 years here in Brazil. We love it here and the people are awesome! Thanks for your comments. Elena

    • Megan, those teachable moments were very special throughout my years of raising kids. Not always easy but definitely paid off. Thanks for your comments. Elena

  3. Had the same thing happen to me, except the other way around. My parents and their friends went on vacation and took most of their children. Gerry and I must have been 9, we went to find our mothers to ask if we could get something and Gerry’s mother said, “You know you can charge it to the room.” MISTAKE. We rented snorkeling equipment, had french fries and Shirley Temples delivered to us on our floats IN the pool and went horseback riding on the beach, among other things. My brother (14) went scuba diving a few times and actually had a go kart delivered to the hotel to ride on the beach – charged to the room. I can still recall standing in the lobby at checkout and hearing my mother say to her friend, “Why would you tell them that?”
    For at least the next 4 months the only response my mother had to “Can I…” was “NO”

    • This is really funny. Thank you for sharing your story Michelle. I guess it really goes to show you that we all make mistakes whether we are parents, children, or grandparents. Would you care to share your story in more detail on Eaglesoaringhigher? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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