[As part of our new weekly column by Mr. 1500 of 1500Days.com]
Late in the school year, I went to my older daughter’s classroom to pick her up. When I got there, an overly excited classmate ran up to me holding a spinning contraption:
- Classmate: Look at this!!!
- Me: Is that a gyroscope? I had one of those when I was your age.
- Classmate: No, it’s a fidget spinner!
- Me: A what?
If I were to believe my daughter, every kid in the universe had one except her:
- Daughter: Dad, I want a fidget spinner too! Everyone else has one!
- Me: Ummm, what are you going to do with it?
- Daughter: Spin it of course!
- Me: OK, but you have to use your own money.
Kids and Money
If I bought my children everything they wanted, I’d need a warehouse to store it all. They see. They want. Here is how trips to Target go down:
- Without kids: In and out in 20 minutes on a slow day.
- With kids:
My wife and I have a strict policy: We give the kids gifts on holidays and birthdays, but they’re on their own every other day of the year. We pay them an allowance and if they want something, they need to use their own money.
However, they are insistent and never give up. Despite the previous 10,000 “No’s”, they aren’t afraid to continue asking for stuff. It isn’t easy.
The Wisdom of Older Daughter
Despite being only 10, Older Daughter is a thoughtful and mostly logical person. This is especially true with money. She said this recently:
Why are we going out to eat when it’s so expensive?
I want a new shirt, but I don’t need it, so I’ll pay for it out of my allowance.
But, she couldn’t resist the siren call of the herd and bought a fidget spinner. After playing with it for a couple of weeks, she admitted having buyer’s remorse:
When I saw other kids with them, I really wanted one. But now, I realize that I wanted it just because they had one. Why was I so silly?
Yes, YES! Very wise Older Daughter.
And this is typically how it goes with her. She doesn’t always make wise money decisions, but usually realizes the error of her ways eventually. For Christmas, a couple relatives gave her $50 in Target gift cards. The next week, she spent it all on clothes for her doll. I was with her at the time and cringed, but held my tongue knowing that a lesson would probably come later. And it did.
Early in the summer, Older Daughter announced she wanted a new bathing suit:
- OD: I really want that bathing suit I saw at Target.
- Me: Your old one still works fine, so we’re not buying it.
- OD: I wish I had enough money to buy it.
- Me: Remember the $50 you spent on doll clothes? I think that you should have saved some of that.
- OD (looking sad and wistful): Yeah…
How Would You Handle it?
Perhaps I’m harsh, but kids have to learn about money. The schools won’t teach them, so I must. I know too many adults with big incomes and little bank accounts. I want my daughters to understand money, even if it takes a couple painful lessons.
And it’s wise to start early. The first time a child begs for a toy is when the conversation needs to start. Nip it in the bud.
Fidget spinners are cheap. Not learning about money will cost you.
How are you going to teach your kids about money?
[EDITOR’S NOTE: If you can believe it, even my 5 y/o knows about fidget spinners! He kept pointing them out every other block as we walked past the beach shops last week, and eventually I caved in and walked him in to buy one. As luck would have it though, he got overwhelmed by the pure number of varieties being offered and couldn’t make up his mind on which to get. Then something else new and shiny caught his eye, and minutes later we were out of the store having picked up nothing – hah! It was also the last time he mentioned fidget spinners the entire trip :)]