Using the recession to teach kids key life lessons

June 10, 2009

Nina Kampler said yes to a pair of sneakers, but no to a new prom dress.

Kampler, executive vice president of strategic retail and corporate solutions at Hilco, said she has cut back on some spending during the recession, but hasn’t skimped on items that her four children really need or experiences that educate or enrich their lives.

While the other members of her family nixed the annual Spring vacation to a resort, they will be taking a trip to Africa this summer. “One is an educational and growing experience, the other is sitting in the sun. It’s very different,” Kampler said during the Reuters Global Retail Summit in New York.

When asked about ways she or her family have changed their spending habits during the recession, Kampler said she has bought less clothing and did not buy an extra car for her kids who were coming home from college.

Although they may be able to afford the extra car, Kampler said she felt it was important to teach her kids to understand they can’t buy everything they want all the time.  Plus, they needed to learn to communicate with each other and coordinate who shares the existing cars. 

Areas where she hasn’t cut back?

“Absolutely no cutbacks on food or entertaining in my house, absolutely no cutbacks on the education and enrichment of my children.  No cutbacks on books and music, I feel these things nourish the soul,” Kampler said.

While she would buy a new pair of sneakers if a child needed them, she drew the line on a new prom dress for her daughter who already had a dress hanging in her closet.

“The generation that has been overspending for the past decade has the opportunity to get their kids on the right path,” Kampler said.  “I’m more reflective, focusing on the lessons I want the next generation to learn.”

As far as other life lessons, Kampler joked that she would never marry someone who bought an engagement ring online.  “People do that?” she asked, incredulous.

(Reuters photo)

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