The things we want, the things we need, and the things we can afford don't intersect that often.

The jeweled earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings sat in velvet-covered trays and seduced my 6-year-old daughter at a home party we recently attended.

“Oh, Mom, look at this one,” she said as she picked up a ring in the shape of an apple bejeweled in green. “These are all so pretty.”

The party’s sales representative was a pro, but she must have inwardly sighed when I walked into her show — me with a simple gold band on my left hand, neck and wrists unadorned and ears that remain without holes. But I brought with me a wide-eyed little girl who was all in.

“When can I get my ears pierced, Mom?” she asked as the dangly earrings were passed around. “All the girls in my class have their ears pierced.” She looked at me, eyebrows raised. “Why don’t you have your ears pierced?”

I shuddered. I know; I know. Having a sharp instrument poked through the soft cartilage of my earlobes won’t hurt. To mimic my daughter, who picked up her tinge of sarcasm from the 9-year-old: “Right.”

“We’ll talk about it when you are older,” I told her before pointing out the blue waterfall necklace. As we walked home after the party, she lamented my order of one modest bracelet instead of the pricey apple ring we both had coveted.

“We can’t always get what we want,” I reminded her. “But it was fun to look, wasn’t it?” She nodded.

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing money lately in our middle-class household.

The 6-year-old started receiving a small weekly allowance. One quarter goes into the bank jar, one for church, and two quarters into the spending jar.

Meanwhile, the 9-year-old’s more substantial allowance has started coming once a month instead of weekly, which has taken some getting used to.

“I think I like the old way better,” he said. “That way I don’t spend it all at the beginning of the month.” A challenge for the ages.

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but a 3.63 mortgage rate ranks right up there. The question that divided my husband and I, though, was whether to take advantage of a historically low rate and go down to a 15-year loan.

“Why don’t we just pay ahead every month?” he said. “That way we aren’t locked in, and if something happens, we don’t have to stress about it.”

It was a familiar argument that makes a lot of sense — in theory — which was why we kept a 30-year term when we refinanced in 2009 to take advantage of falling interest rates.

Since then, some months have passed, and we paid extra on the mortgage’s principal. Other months we looked the other way. Let’s face it. Bills happen. Roofs leak. Above-ground swimming pools take a swan dive. Cars age. Children’s teeth require shiny equipment. Whims overtake our better judgment.

“I like the 15-year option better,” I said. “It’s a built-in discipline to pay the extra. Plus, imagine this. About the time both kids are off to college, we’ll be wrapping up house payments.”

The thought appeared like a mirage, yet actually reachable. We looked at each other while the banker waited.

“All right, let’s do it,” my husband said. Pens were distributed and forms signed.

Nobody knows what the next 15 years will hold for us or anyone else. But I can offer up one guess.

Maybe dangling earrings for the girl ... and cute vintage clips for her mom.

Julie Kaiser is a freelance writer and columnist living in Chatham, Ill.