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How Much Do You Share With Your Kids When it Comes to The Hobby?

I got an interesting email from one of my regular readers and wanted to share an excerpt with you:

As you may remember I have only one daughter and she is 7. By now, she’s getting the fact that we are traveling places for free. I guess I don’t keep it a secret and talk about it with my husband. We live pretty frugally in general and she sees that we don’t have a lot of money. I figured she should know how we get to travel so that she doesn’t get confused by the fact that dad has a crappy car but we still get to go places.

 Anyway, my point is this: how much do you feel comfortable telling your children? When Red Bird was still alive, I’d go with her to Target and stop at the Customer service desk and do my loading while she’d look at the “Dollar Spot” items. She didn’t care what I was doing because she loves spending hours there but I figured eventually she’ll start asking. Am I going to explain the full deal to her when she’s able to understand it? I guess as I’m writing this I realize that I’m not 100% comfortable with some of my own practices.”
This email really hit home. They say you shouldn’t do anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. I think an even better analogy is to do things that you would not be embarrassed telling your kids about (well, when it comes to hobby and finances, that is). For me personally, the biggest consideration has to do with my religious beliefs, but it’s not something I choose to bring up in my posts.

                Where do you draw the line?

In general, I try not to make definitive statements or point finger at anyone. I’m not here to impose my personal morals or get preachy. That’s not what the blog is about. That said, I’ve made no secret that I’m uncomfortable with many M/S techniques and will not participate in anything that appears deceptive or encourages you to break the rules.
I don’t sign up for business cards even though I’m technically eligible. The reason? You are supposed to use them only for business-related expenses.  Once again, it’s my personal stand on the matter and I doubt that banks care all that much.
I do try to be honest at all times. However, honest does not equal stupid. I’m not going to say I’m  getting the card only for the sign-up bonus. But I will say that I like the rewards it offers, which is 100% true.
My son is too young to understand this whole miles and points world, but I do tell my daughter about the hobby.  I’m not ashamed to reveal the details on how we get to travel so much. She does know that our miles and points come from credit cards, but I haven’t gone into specifics, mostly because she probably won’t grasp the concept. When she gets older, I will explain that we sign up and cancel credit cards on a regular basis in order to collect the rewards.
I also try to be honest about the blog. The other day, she asked me how I make money. I told her that people sometimes apply for credit cards through my site and I get paid for each approval. She suggested that I include more photos of her as well as my son, and let her write some guest posts. Her words: “Mommy, people will see how cute we are. Tons will apply for cards through your blog and we will be filthy rich!” No, I’m not kidding. She is gonna make a heck of a marketer one day!
Overall, I’m not embarrassed to tell family and friends about my bizarre little corner of the universe. I do have to be careful, though. Not all feel that what I do is ethical and I respect that. Let’s face it, this hobby does have a parasitic feel to it, doesn’t it?  That said, I’m not taking money or points from starving children, but rather large banks who are in it to make a profit (just like me). They extend the offer and I happily accept. I’m not going to apologize for not getting into debt or renewing cards with monstrous fees.
I think it’s possible to stay honest and ethical and simultaneously take advantage of lucrative opportunities along the way. Of course, everyone will have to define the word “ethical” for themselves. But will the definition differ from that you would give to your child?

Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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13 thoughts on “How Much Do You Share With Your Kids When it Comes to The Hobby?

  1. Hi,
    Yes, my kids know all about my points and miles obsession! However, they are older than yours (two teens and a 10 year old). We talk about good credit and how it works towards your advantage or disadvantage often. I have tried to teach them good financial management skills and they seem to be on the right track. Like you, I do not cross my own ethical line. I do not do manufactured spending, no business cards, etc. If I can’t be completely honest with my children about the hobby, than I know I’m doing something wrong!

    • @Michelle I wonder how many future hobbyists we are all grooming in our own households! 🙂 I think it’s important to explain the basics to kids. Like you said, it teaches them valuable skills they can use in the future. This hobby isn’t just about constantly switching credit cards, but also financial discipline and organization. I hope my kids will be better than me on the last one…
      I also agree, it’s important to know when to walk away from certain deals. I’m definitely not perfect in this respect, it’s a work in progress.

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  3. At the risk of sounding stupid here…I didn’t know that personal expenses cannot be put on business cards? Is it in the terms and conditions? Most blogs I read encourage users to sign up for business versions of the card, even based on small income from blogs or multi-level marketing jobs.

    • @Shoesinks I assure you, there are no stupid questions, so you don’t need to worry about that part.
      Yes, when you sign up for business cards, you are technically agreeing to use them only for business-related expenses. I mention that fact in my post on best business card bonuses http://milesforfamily.com/2013/09/29/i-cant-get-these-cards-but-you-may-be-able-to/ (it looks like a mess, I need to clean it up, sorry) That’s one of the reasons I decided to create a separate list, and probably should mention it more often. I guess I just don’t want to beat readers over the head constantly.
      It’s true, most blogs do encourage people to sign up for business bonuses and honestly, banks probably don’t care where you use the card. To be fair, I have seen few blogs post warnings on this. But yes, it is in the “T and C” of most business card offers.

  4. My kids (11 and 8) both know all about it – they came with me to Target to load the RedBird and are now pretty well trained. Case in point, my son came home from a recent grocery store trip with Mom and said to me “Dad – Safeway has the $15 rebate on those Visa cards you like!” 🙂

    • @Brion Well done! It’s funny that they pay attention to stuff like Visa gift cards etc. That’s the thing, kids are watching when you don’t think they are. My daughter loves playing with my credit cards. A couple of times I thought I got them back, but they were still on her dresser.

  5. My kids are young so they really have no idea how we can travel the way that we do. Occasionally I need to level-set their expectations, i.e. sorry we won’t be going to the lounge today because we’re flying Frontier or no, flat bed seats are a special treat or no, we can’t just go to Japan for the weekend so you can practice Japanese (but we can go to a good local Japanese restaurant). My wife and I waited to have kids until our late 30s after we had established good careers, so in general my kids are having a more comfortable childhood than either of us experienced. It just probably seems normal to them. I’m sure that some questions will probably arise when they get older, but I’ll just be honest about it and emphasize that being responsible with your money is one of life’s most important lessons since it can lead to greater rewards.

    • @Erik We actually waited till our late twenties to have kids for the same reasons you’ve mentioned. If we had them sooner, we would not be able to travel a whole lot, even with the help of miles and points. My husband and I like to joke that we are both underachievers. He could have probably gone to Google or other major company, but we chose to live in a small town with limited career prospects, so we can be near his family. And we worked just enough to pay the bills and have a little leftover to travel and help others. Translation: we are both lazy!
      And that’s pretty much what we do now. Our kids are extremely fortunate and have a much more comfortable life than my husband and I had growing up. We do try to give them the gift of travel on a regular basis. I really think it’s one of the best things you can do with your money. But I can totally relate to what you are saying. I want to make sure they understand travel is a treat. That applies to economy as well as business class, Holiday Inn as well as Hyatt.

  6. I hadn’t thought about what the deal mommy mentions: my daughter talking to friends and neighbors about the hobby! I’m ok telling friends about it but not every single human around. Also, what will my neighbor think about us asking to borrow his lawn mower when we went on two big trips this summer? Oh well, maybe it’s kind of fun to have people wondering 😉

    • @leticia It’s funny, my daughter doesn’t really talk about it to others all that much. I really think she believes everyone travels the same way we do. She also insists on going somewhere every weekend. When I object, she looks at me and says : Don’t you have a lot of points?

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