Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Good Samaritan Had A Few Bucks

“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions – he had money too.” ~ Margaret Thatcher

I was raised to believe that repaying financial obligations is a moral and ethical issue.

I guess that’s why I’ve been so shocked when people don’t feel it’s unethical to walk away from making payments on houses, cars, credit cards, and on, and on. Even when facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, there are folks who refuse to get a second job or go from a single-income household to a two-income household to pay the bills.

What are we teaching our children when we aren’t doing everything possible to fulfill our financial obligations?

I won’t lie…it isn’t easy dropping off the kids at daycare. Even now, after eight years, I drive away with a lump in my throat.

Even though I miss my daughters during the day, I hope my work ethic is teaching them invaluable life lessons about integrity and self-sufficiency.

If you’re faced with taking on a new job to help with household finances, try having this conversation with your children:

“When our family made the decision to buy this house (car, vacation, etc) we promised the bank/credit union that we would pay them back if they gave us a loan. We need to keep that promise because it’s the right thing to do. In order to keep that promise, mom (dad) needs to get another job to earn more money to pay the loan. Just because I’m not at home with you all day doesn’t mean that you aren’t my top priority. It might be tough at times, but we’ll all be okay.”

We must teach our children that choices have consequences.

If bringing another paycheck into the household isn’t an option, then we should consider other means to re-pay our debts. This may include selling the home or car or “toy”. It may mean moving to another city or state with higher-paying jobs. It may mean giving up family vacations and other “extras”.

On the other hand, what are we teaching our children when we tell them to not pick up the phone when a Collector calls about our mortgage, auto loan, or credit card bills? Or, we lie and tell the Collector that the check is in the mail?

Are we teaching our children that it’s okay to not pay someone money we owe them?

What are we teaching our children about responsibility and accountability?

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Jobs are lost, businesses fail, severe illnesses attack. Do tough times release us from our financial obligations?

Are we justified in skipping out on a loan because someone “moved my cheese?”

Is walking away from a house or a car or a credit card bill unethical?

Are we givers or takers?

This is one of the best teaching moments we can give our children: When we see someone lying on the proverbial side of the road, and we are in a financial position to be the Good Samaritan and meet their needs.

This is why we should manage our finances wisely…so we can serve our families, neighbors, communities and even strangers with integrity.

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