Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Money and kids: Letting the consequences do the disciplining!

My husband and I have tried to get in the routine of giving our child an allowance: money she can spend, save and share. She has a bank account she started by herself at our local credit union. It was a very powerful message to show her the importance of saving for the future.

But when it came to allowances, I always felt a little conflicted. We don’t give her money for chores that are part of being a contributing member of our family. But the issue of a specific amount or allowance on a regular basis, continued to elude us. I talk to a good friend of mine who suggested just starting with a reasonable amount and letting her spend it, save it or give it away in ANY way she wanted. I have to admit, that last sentence pushed my hidden buttons in me!” What if she decides to spend it on junk”, I said. My wise friend told reminded me that allowing her to use the money in any way she liked would give her a good handle on making mistakes on a smaller scale so she can learn the value of using your money responsibly.

Well, we got started that same day. I was as uncomfortable as a kangaroo with a porcupine in her pouch! She got her first official allowance and we explained that she would be getting the same amount at the beginning of every month and it was to be use any way she liked.

Immediately, she told us she wanted to buy some books out of a series she really liked. We explained that we had a few choices in order to get the book or books she wanted: we could go to the local Half Price Books store where she could probably get more for her money or we could go to the local bookstore where the books were brand new but would cost more. She was more than willing to go take our first choice but unfortunately, Half Price Books did not have the specific books she was looking for.

And here is where the lesson started: She was very upset and disappointed at the thought that she was not going to go home with a book in her hands! I promised her that we could go the next day and try another local Half Price Book store and see what they had available there. Yes.. You guessed it. She didn’t want to wait until the next hour, let alone the next day.

I got a little irritated and tried to explain to her that if we did go to the bookstore she would end up spending all her money in only one book as opposed to using the same amount to buy 2 or maybe even 3 books at the second hand store. I explained how in the past we had done just that and the books were almost brand new for significantly less money.

She would not budge. She wanted the book that day, so I agree to let her go to the bookstore. We did, and the price of the book took her entire allowance for the month. She was only able to buy one and only one on the series.

She left happy and excited to have spent her allowance on her favorite book.

The next day, as we were running errands, we happen to be near another Half Price Book store, so I decided to go in. Imagine her surprise when 3 of the books in the series she wanted were available there ON SALE.. Including the one she had purchased full price!

She begged and pleaded for me to let her “borrow” the money to buy the rest of the books. We had been clear that her allowance was to be used for the things that she wanted aside from the things that we already bought for her most of the time. If she wanted another book she was going to have to wait until her next allowance. She almost started crying as we got back in the car. When she finally calmed down and was ready to talk, she said “Mom, I should have waited until today, right? I would have gotten all the books that I wanted for almost the same price of the book I bought yesterday. That was stupid and a waste of money!”

I didn’t say a word. I just took a deep breath and smile. My friend was right: What great lessons to be had when we allow our children to make their own choices. There’s nothing more powerful than these lessons learned by our own experiences.

How do you handle your urge to “rescue” your kids when they make bad decisions? I would love to hear your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Great story - nothing like learning from your own mistakes! Bravo.