There are a lot of things about parenting that I know nothing about.
Teaching money management is one of them. And yes, I realize that this is probably because I’m not so good at it myself.
I’ve thought a lot about how to teach financial responsibility to my kids. Peanut (now 5) is starting to show signs of entitlement: she struggles to buy birthday gifts for other kids without getting a gift herself, she grapples with the difference between needs and wants, she is learning that money is more often earned than given.
I get that kids want the stuff that they see in stores or in friends’ houses. And I don’t want to raise kids that want to surround themselves with stuff. But I also think that this ‘thingism‘ can be harnessed for a larger lesson.
With that in mind, I’m going to let you in on my favorite Spring/Fall Saturday morning activity with my girls. We get up early (ha! as if there’s another option!) and head out to a girls-only breakfast. Pancakes and eggs at our local greasy spoon; it’s a good way to start the day.
Then, I give each kid $2 and explain that this is their budget for the day. They are welcome to spend that money or save it for our next trip.
(Anyone else remembering “Better Off Dead” right now? “I want my two dollars!” No? Just me? Okay then. Moving on…)
We get in the car and start our hunt for yard sales. I don’t look at the classifieds in advance because
I’m lazy the spontaneity of the hunt is way more fun. When the girls see a neon hand spray painted sign, they know they’ve hit pay dirt.
We follow the directions and pull up to the sale. At this point my backseat drivers peruse the goods with hawk-like vision and I either hear, “Let’s skip it!” or the magical phrase,
On Saturday, we visited 2 yard sales before finding this one. There were baby toys AND big girl toys. As an added bonus, there was a tiny little dog that Pumpkin followed around for a good 10 minutes. (Our dog is 70+ pounds, so I’m pretty sure Pumpkin thought that “Toto” was a cat.)
It took Peanut about five seconds to find a toy she wanted. It was priced at $10. Peanut knows that 10 is more than 2. She asked where the $2 toys were and she found a princess music player. She promptly forgot all about the $10 toy.
Pumpkin also gets $2, even though she is only 1 and has no concept of money. She found a baby doll that fell within her budget.
We bought a donut and some lemonade to celebrate our successful outing.
We came home and camped out on the kitchen floor to explore our yard sale spoils. Or, more accurately, we immediately began fighting over who gets a turn with which toy.
Maybe they learn something about money from these outings…maybe not. I’d like to think that the kids are learning a little something about the value of money.
I’d like to think that the fun of finding something they can afford sticks with them more than the things themselves.
And of course, I hope that the time we spend together on the hunt is what they remember most.
But if not, we’ll always have the princess CD player that sings “A Whole New World” in a tinny monotone. Yeah, good times.
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