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Some days you get mail in your mailbox that totally renews your faith in, well, a lot of things for me.  Below is the thank you note we received on Friday from our niece Celia, thanking us for the birthday money we gave her.

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It is very inspiring that an eight year old has the awareness to practice such wonderful money management philosophies (and gift acceptances) that I too, believe in:  saving a bit, indulging a bit, and doing your best to remain humble while doing so.  And because it’s just the cutest damn thing.  And I LOVE thank-you notes, in general.

(It should also be noted that Brian and I have been rather obsessed with personal finances lately, and it’s become one of those married people things that has to be talked about and dealt with because so much rides on being agreeable in the finance department.  Officially, I am proud to say that my husband and I are 90% on the same page with our investments, accounts, and money management.  One small step for marriage…)

We give each of our nieces and nephews $50 on their birthdays for their parents to deposit into savings (or wherever they feel appropriate).  Brian and I do this largely because we were party to a full Saturday helping some family clean, purge, donate/burn 20 years worth of “put that in the basement, we’ll go through it sometime” junk in storage.  Enough to fill a flatbed trailer of things to burn, because in the country, you just burn shit and that’s how it’s done, y’all.  Things like games with missing pieces, deflated basketballs, keepsakes that became less keepsake-worthy, clothes, documents, sporting goods, and things that could be flammable like bottle rockets, as an example.  Basically everything you couldn’t donate.  It was a. lot. of. shit.

After the hot and laughter-filled summer Saturday that was more enjoyable than I anticipated, I thought a lot about the gifts we give one another for birthdays, anniversaries, christenings, Christmas…the list goes on.  Frankly, I saw a lot of waste and a lot of unnecessary excess.  So I proposed the $50 birthday idea to Brian, and he agreed.  Badabing.  Our hope was for the parents of Peyton, Thad, Emma, Celia, Adele, Matthew, Peter, and Baby #3 to use the money we would give year after year to further their children’s educations, or savings accounts for their first car, to spend a few bucks on something nice for themselves if they want, what have you.

I think Brian and I are lucky to have had people in our lives who set up savings accounts and helped teach that managing money well was important.  Our parents had foresight to be financially savvy  in many ways – Brian’s family business and its succession planning,  and even as I showed pigs or won money for my 4-H projects, those small investment practices grew up with me.

I guess the long-winded point is that we do have a lot of kiddos that we want to dote on in real ways, even if they aren’t our own sons and daughters.  So, we give savings, and hopefully set a financial example that money management is cool.  And then, with notes like the one above, you get a little back yourself with the reminder that our eight year old niece is the coolest philanthropist I know…and humanity is not lost.  It was a lovely note.