I have two kids: a teenager and a preteen. One of the lessons that I, as a parent, am trying to teach them is the lack of value of possessions. My wife are not wealthy, but we are blessed financially and can use our money to give our kids lots of things. However, we know that everyTHING we give our kids will end up in a landfill as trash. No exceptions - even our house will end up there at some point.
There is one thing that we can give our kids that will never end up in the trash: memories. Memories will last a lifetime. Memories are stories and when coupled with pictures, they are powerful reminders of days gone by. Those bygone days (like today) are not perfect, but they hold their value better than most possessions.
So a couple of years ago, we began carrying out what we feel is a much better investment of our money: going on trips in the US and internationally. We drove from our home in Virginia to Oklahoma for a family wedding and on the way back, we visited Ft. Worth, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Louisville, Mammoth Cave, and other sights on the way. Last year we took a trip to Spain and visited Madrid, Granada, and Sevilla. We're already dreaming and planning more trips across the US and to Europe (our preferred international destination).
These trips are fun (my kids are great travelers), instructional and educational (they've visited the Gateway Arch and the Alhambra, learning about culture and architecture), and priceless bonding time (my kids get to see their parents in a different light in a different venue). My wife and I want to continue traveling as often as we can; we are blessed financially to be able to do this, and (more importantly) we consider it one of the best things we can do for our kids. Travel and memories are certainly better and longer lasting than a video game or clothes.
To etch these memories in our collective memory, my wife does something wonderful at the end of each year and special trip. She uses an online publisher to create a picture book. These picture or memory books are easy to do, relatively inexpensive, and they will be wonderful to look at years later.
I don't want to tell anyone how to spend their money. I will suggest you consider how you're investing your money in your kids and in the future. Are you putting it into assets that will wither up, break, and end up in the trash? Or are you putting your money in priceless, precious memories which involve spending time with your kids? You don't have to travel (that is our choice and we're grateful we can do that), but you do have to set aside time to be with your family.
Invest yourself in the future—in memories made with your kids and your family. You'll never regret it.