There’s unrest swirling in the air amongst men and boys everywhere this month as Nintendo revealed its latest new gaming system, The Switch.
Like a swarm of bees to honey, they simply can’t help but be lured by siren calls. And of course, amongst that very swarm includes my husband and our 6-year-old, son.
Yes, of course, bzzz… 😉
“So Dad, how many dow lahs does the Switch costs?” asked my inquisitive 6-year-old.
“It’s a lot of money, buddy. Why do you ask?” my husband responded.
“Well, because I want to see if I have enough dow lahs to buy one. They have the new Mario Kart game on it!” he exclaimed with a bounce.
“Umm, it’s like $400 dollars buddy…” my husband replied sheepishly.
“$400 dow lahs! What?! Forget that!” responded my 6-year-old in total disbelief.
And with that, my husband and I both exchanged a look that can only be described as kindred spirits. Because in that very split second glance we shared between two loving parents (You know, that very same depth-of-silence look that was coined by Mr. Jon Hamm himself from Mad Men.
Yeah, exactly that, that happened) we both knew, we’ve done it.
Yep, we got through to him, our first-born babe. Somewhere along the way, this little squirt of just shy of 7 years old, had just learned a very powerful and very important lesson that most folks much older than he has yet to figure out.
And it just about blew these very proud parents away. It was honest to goodness, humbling and oh so very satisfying to not only hear him say that but to also know that he understood the value of saving what little money he has earned in his short life thus far to sacrifice it for a much-lauded after a gaming system.
What wise words uttered from the mouth of a child. This mama bear could not have been more proud. 🙂
And here I was, worried that I was not doing nearly enough to teach my kids some of the much-needed basics they need to know about money.
We see it all the time. It’s all over the news. Headlines plastered across our screens about the national debt crisis ballooning out-of-control. And yet everyone, including our very own family, are constantly bombarded with temptations to buy! Buy! Buy!
Not only that, it is as if no one could care less about the equally astounding mortgage and student loans debt. We have come to accept this as the norm of living in American society today, and it has eaten us alive. (Yep, even us, we’re guilty of that as well.)
But of course, someone’s gotta be able to pay for this burgeoning debt.
But who? And with what money, right?
Credit Cards aren’t gonna cut it.
And there it goes, from one shiny object to the next shiny object, like a domino effect.
We can’t help but to buy into it.
But what if we can summon up the courage to say no and resist these temptations from spinning out-of-control?
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Heck, my 6-year-old just about schooled us on the very thing we deal with on a daily basis. So I know, it is well within our power to harness our courage and resist spending money needlessly.
Oftentimes when we are faced with the temptation to buy that cool new shiny object, it is so easy just to give in and justify ourselves by saying that we worked hard for it and so we deserve it. But maybe instead of thinking that we are denying ourselves the pleasure of this cool new shiny object, we begin to tell ourselves and believe that we are actually saving up our money for something bigger and better.
Take it as having a peace of mind, to save for a rainy day, because something better will come along and replace that once shiny cool new object that is now dull and forgotten. You are saving yourself a world of grief from having to deal with being in debt, all for a very brief instance of gratification.
Now in full disclosure- I have not yet explained this concept to my kids. And by the same token, I should not expect them to already understand the concept of a need versus a want.
But I have a sneaky suspicion that, as little, as they are, they’ve already known more than I give them credit for. I am constantly amazed by what comes out of their mouths every day.
So have heart, continue to do what you do at home and be open and honest with your family members when it comes to how you manage your family’s finances.
- Continue to compare deals and shop for the best prices together.
- Continue to clip your coupons and pick up items that are the best bang for your buck.
- Continue to share your frugal ideas with your children, because you will be pleasantly surprised to see what they have just learned from watching you in action (real-life situations here folks!)
Pick a good time (preferably after breakfast) one day and take your kids to the store (on purpose! – I’m holding in a laugh right now as I’m writing this.) Negotiate with them before entering the store.
If they continue to show you good behavior during your shopping trip that you will reward them with 1 item of their choice. Let them pick out a toy that they want.
Then let them pay the cashier. Make sure to let them know that this is a reward-a special treat you are giving them for working so hard.
But yes-do it on purpose anyway because it’s a valuable lesson for them. And yes, I’ve done it myself too, several times as a matter of fact.
That is why I can definitely say from my own experience that it actually sunk through to my kids!
Here is how we explain the concept of money to our kids:
What is money?
- Money is a type of currency that is used all over the world by everyone.
- In the U.S., money can be traded in paper form or in coins.
When do we use money?
- We use money whenever we have a need or a want for something.
- Money can be traded for goods or services (doing something for someone else).
Why do we use money?
- Money is a means to an end (it lets us buy the things we need and want).
- A need is something that you cannot live without (like food, water, clothing, shelter).
- A want is something that you do not need to live (like gum, candy, a bubble blaster, or the latest Nintendo gaming system, the Switch! 😉 )
Where do we use money?
- Money is used everywhere and by everyone in the world.
How is money used?
- We earn money by working for it. (You do a job and you get paid money for doing that job.)
- People work so that they can earn money to buy the things that they need to live, like food & water.
- You can also receive money as a gift for a special occasion (such as: birthdays, weddings, or holidays)
- You can also choose to give money away as a gift or a donation to a charity (a place that does something good for others like an animal shelter or homeless shelter).
I hope this gives you an idea of what to say and how to communicate with your own kids about money. Our intent is to teach our kids about money as early as they are able to count.
In doing so, we hope that they will become more financially responsible as they become adults. As their parents, we believe it is our responsibility to bestow this knowledge onto our kids because we are their first teachers, and also because we have discovered that financial literacy is NOT taught in schools, even though it should be.
The next time you hear that ice cream truck come down your street, give your kids some money and let them pay for it. They will begin to have an understanding of what money is and how important it is to be able to save up for their very own treat.
Then give them two options:
Option A: Whether they would like to pay for the treat themselves
Option B: Whether they would prefer to go to the grocery store and pick up a variety pack for much cheaper.
Either way, ask for their opinion to see what they would say. Chances are, their answers will surprise even you when your kids have actually discovered the importance of being able to save up for their very own treat.
Here’s a fun free printable for you to print out and laminate to hang up in your kid’s room.
Whenever they see a new toy they want, ask them these 6 questions to see if it’s worth it for them to reconsider before they buy.
Make it a point to talk openly to each other about money, anytime you have the opportunity to do so with your kids so that it does not become a topic shrouded by mystery. It makes for a great conversation starter when you are trying to teach them about money concepts.
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