I came up with a list of questions to ask my kids to whether or not they should spend money or save money anytime they have their eye on something cool whenever we are out shopping.
You can print my free printable Spend or Save PDF to help you steer the money conversation in the right direction with your own kids.
Just scroll down to below to print it out, laminate it, and hang it up somewhere they will notice.
It may surprise you to hear what they have to say if they had to spend their own cash to buy that thing that they wanted so much.
Gift cards are burning a hole in his pocket
It was right after his birthday party.
As he’s just received a lot of gift cards from friends and family, my son knew exactly what to get and where to go shopping for his ultimate would-be birthday gift.
There’s unrest swirling in the air amongst men and boys everywhere this month as Nintendo revealed its latest new gaming system.
It was going to be the toy to end all toys, the long-awaited Nintendo Switch which includes, The Mario Odyssey game.
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… 😉
It cost how much???
“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 & Mario Odyssey game with it!” he exclaimed with a bounce.
He was deciding whether or not it was worth it to spend a certain amount of money on this cool new gaming system that he so desperately yearned for.
“Umm, it’s like $400 dollars buddy…” my husband replied sheepishly.
And without skipping a beat, my son exclaimed, “$400 dow lahs! What?! Forget that!”
My 6-year-old in total disbelief without regard for whether or not we would be paying for this gaming system or if he was going to be using his own money to pay for it.
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 have 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 baby.
An Early Lesson About Money
We have realized at that very moment that our son just learned an important lesson early on about how to manage his money at such a young age.
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.
Instead of spending his gift cards and money on video games, our boy decided to save his money instead! 🙂
And here I was, worried that I was not doing nearly enough to teach my kids some of life’s much-needed money concepts.
The temptation is everywhere…
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 seems as if no one could care less about the equally surmounting mortgage and student loans debt.
We have come to accept this as the norm of living in modern American society today, and it has eaten us alive.
Yep, even us! We’re guilty of this ourselves.
To Spend or To Save? That is the question…
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.
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 if we can teach our kids to be able to decide when to save and when to spend at a young age so that they are more prepared to handle more complicated financial situations later in life?
Echoed from the mouth of babes…
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 (aka Shiny Object Syndrome.)
It is so easy just to give in and justify our fleeting sense of desire by justifying that we worked hard for it and so by that reasoning, we deserve it.
Maybe instead of thinking that we are denying ourselves the pleasure of this instant gratification of a cool new shiny object, we begin to tell ourselves and believe that we are actually saving up our money for something bigger and better.
A delayed gratification, something that we have to put in a little bit of extra effort to wait it out.
Wouldn’t that make us appreciate it a little more?
This concept of delayed gratification is what we are trying to instill in our kids.
So that they can begin to question themselves before they make small and eventually large purchase decisions on their own.
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.
Prep them early
At the time of drafting up this post, my kids were 6 and 4 years old.
As young as they still are, I don’t expect them to fully grasp the concept of a need versus a want, just yet.
But I have a sneaky suspicion that, as little, as they are, they already know a bit more than I usually 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!)
How To Talk To Your Kids:
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.
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:
All About The Money
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 a job for someone else).
Why do we use money?
- Money lets us buy the things we need and want to live.
What is a need?
- A need is something that you cannot live without (like food, water, clothing, shelter).
What is a want?
- 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.
Money can be a gift too:
- You can receive money as a gift for a special occasion (such as: birthdays, weddings, or holidays)
- Or you can also give money to someone as a gift or a donation to a place like a charity (a charity is 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 money-savvy kids and eventually money-savvy adults as a result.
And also because we have discovered that financial literacy is NOT taught in schools, even though it should be, in our humble opinion.
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:
To Spend: Whether they would like to pay for the treat themselves.
To Save: 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.
To recap what I’ve mentioned earlier from above, here is a list of 6 questions that I came up with to ask my kids to think about anytime they see something cool that they have their eye on when we are out shopping.
You can download this free list below to talk with your kids about whether they should spend or save their money too.
Free Printable Spend or Save PDF:
Access your freebie below!
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 and build their confidence in financial literacy.
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