When my son first started to have his own money, he was eager to make trips to the dollar store. He would spend whatever little bit of money he had and feel very little remorse when his new toys had a five-minute life span. Now that he has his own money, that has changed.
When he asked to buy toys with his birthday money, he was unequivocal; it had to be Toy’s R Us. When I asked why he told me that he hates the dollar store. “Their stuff doesn’t last.” I’m happy that he has made this early connection. ‘You pay for what you get’ is a valuable lesson that I’m so glad he has learned early.
Now I don’t want him to miss out on the need to be frugal. I plan to show him that there are some items where the dollar store is a fine place to shop, but for the intricate toys that he likes, the dollar store is not the best.
“I use to go the store with my money and if I didn’t find something I wanted I had to buy something right away.” – my son
Saving is hard. It is hard to put off getting something today in hopes of getting something better tomorrow. And before my son received an allowance, I think it was even harder. When you are uncertain when you are getting money again, it is hard to come up with a plan to save and stick to it.
I’ve been lucky to always work in jobs that pay me regularly. I have a special appreciation for the contractors and freelancers out there who budget with irregular paydays.
The lesson that you need to save for the things you want is so powerful. My son would often go into a store with his money, look around for what he could afford and maximize his returns. While that is not a bad strategy, it often left him disappointed. There was always that one thing, just out of his price range that he was not willing to save for. Now with a steady income, he is more willing to put off that purchase and wait. And he is much more satisfied with the things he purchases.
Making a Difference
I wrote about the charitable work my son has done over the past year. His charitable efforts have let him know that while there are significant problems in the world, he can do something to help solve them. I have also seen the pride he has in himself for making a difference. How can you not feel good helping people?
We’ve enjoyed the conversations we’ve had around the ways he can help people less fortunate, such as giving away his toys and books that he no longer wants, or giving more money to people or charities that he feels will make the most impact.
He has also made the connection that giving can feel good. I was surprised when my son used some of his birthday money to buy his sister a small gift..just because.
How has your journey been going? Let me know how the conversation has been going. What have their takeaways been? Are they making the connections you had hoped? Any unexpected realization? Let me know in the comments.