Monday, December 18, 2006

The Value Of A Dollar

First, we're fine - thanks for asking. We didn't lose power. It flickered a couple of times, and the winds were scary-strong (oh those trees were swaying something fierce! Yikes!), but thankfully nothing disasterous happened. The next morning our street was covered with all sorts of tree debris - branches and twigs and needles everywhere. Some of the branches that came down were pretty big, but none landed such that damage was caused. It took me a couple of hours to pick up in my front yard alone, nevermind the backyard and decks. I rushed to fill the can before the truck came (it was pick-up day, as luck would have it) and managed to overfill the sucker. The guy took it anyway and told me that if I hurried I could re-fill the can and put it across the street and he'd pick it up for me again. I hustled to shovel my pile into the can a 2nd time and dragged it across the street just in the nick of time and got a 2nd pickup. Then, the remaining debris just about filled the can a 3rd time, but I'll have to wait for the next weeks' pick-up. And that was just a down-and-dirty tidying of the yard/sidewalk. That doesn't include all the crap that's on our roof or the backyard.

So the the lame attempt to make a logical segue into the title of this post, Mr. Chick told Nicholas he'd pay him a nickle for every pinecone he picked up in the backyard. So far, we haven't been paying our kids any form of allowance but have discussed when to begin. This was our first toe in the water. Nicholas got as high as 107 pinecones before Mr. Chick stopped him and said that was enough and he'd pay him $5 for his efforts. Nicholas was so excited to earn $5!

He began to immediately think about how he'd spend his money. First thought? Buy something from the vending machine at the YMCA. I rarely allow the kids to have junk from vending machines, but that doesn't stop them from asking. Just about every time we go there (which is several times a week) they plead for something from the vending machine. The lure of chips and candy is very strong. So Nicholas, now flush with cold, hard cash, decides he wants to spend some of it on the vending machine.

"Please Mama! I'll buy something healthy like pretzels!" cries my little master negotiator. He so knows how to work me, I swear.

So we let him buy the pretzels and he's thrilled to get a quarter back from his dollar. "more money, Mama!" I think we need to step up the money lessons, yes? Maybe he doesn't understand much about the concepts of change because I so rarely have cash, instead making the majority of my purchases with my debit card. No change!

Then today it was time to return the shoes he was demo'ing. He wore these shoes nearly everyday for almost a month and for his trouble he was to be paid $25. And again, he started deciding how he wanted to spend his money, like right now. It just so happens that right down the street from the research company is one of my favorite toy stores. Also as luck would have it, I needed to buy one last present for Mr. Chick's goddaughter. So we went. I tried discussing with Nicholas all the different things he could do with his money: a) put it all in the bank. b) hold onto it until after Christmas and if he didn't get something he really wanted he could then go buy it with his money. c) blow it today at the toy store, or d) use the shoe money to buy himself new shoes, which he'll need in another couple of months or so. I was really pushing a, b or d, but Nicholas was high on the idea of c. Of course he was. Did I really expect anything different?? Not really, but a mother could hope.

I really wasn't wild about the idea of letting him buy himself a toy this close to Christmas, but then again, it's HIS money and these are good opportunities for learning. In the store he kept running the numbers: "I have $25 from my shoes, and Daddy still owes me $4 more from the pinecones. That means I have - how much do I have, Mama??" and "these Legos cost $44, and I only have $25, so I can't get these." I was fascinating witnessing this. He scoured the entire store, letting me know which toys he liked best and which ones he could afford. With my help, he narrowed the choices down to just a couple, and I steered him (gently, gently) towards one in particular. It cost $19.95.

He decided to buy that toy (a really cool toy called Frigits that are a collection of shutes and wheels and such that are magnetic and the child can create a path for a marble. It starts at the top and you have to place the various shutes, ramps, buckets and wheels in place to catch and keep the marble going until it lands in the catch bucket at the bottom. Love it!) and agreed to put the remainder of his money in the bank. He figured out that would be $9. He was quite pleased with himself for being able to buy a new toy AND have money to put in the bank.

We've always encouraged savings, and each of the kids have their own savings accounts. Every so often we go to the bank and the kids are involved in doing the banking transaction. They enjoy it and think it's fun. And shoot! I swear these kids have more money in savings than I do! But I don't want to be stodgy and ONLY push savings over spending money. I think it's important to teach the value of a dollar. How else will they learn?? What I need to become better at is finding creative ways to do this that are age-appropriate. How do other parents handle the spend/save issue with their young kids? I want to develop solid saving habits, but I also want them to understand money from a spending/value point of view. Tricky stuff. I heard somewhere that more parents are comfortable discussing sex with their kids than discussing money and the family finances.

What have you taught your kids about money?

Our kids don't get a whole lot of cash but when they do (on their birthdays or holidays from relatives), they can spend half and put half in the bank. They each have a savings account and come with to put their money in. This way they always know they have to put some away to save.
I have always done the exact same thing as Jen (except when they were too little to spend it). They HAVE to put half in their savings and can spend the other half on something they really want.
Glad you didn't have any damage and everyone is safe.
One third to the bank (for long-term college, etc.)
One third to short-term (for something big for self, and for christmas presents in our case)
One third to do whatever you want, within reason.
Mine also give 5% off the top for a charity of choice, but I would only say to insist on this if the whole family gives.
I think 5 is young to have more than a couple of dollars to spend as they wish, but that is just my personal opinion.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Free Counters
Hit Counters

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?