One thing I was never taught much about growing up was Money. More specifically, how to handle money. So… I am attempting to teach my kids. In this attempt, a sad, funny, awesome moment occurred the other day that I wanted to share.
We started a commission system with our 4-year-old based on Dave Ramsey’s recommendation in Smart Money, Smart Kids. Our son will do something around the house and he “earns” a commission for doing the job. We have had this implemented for a little while and he gets pretty excited about. He is 4, so right now all he does is put his money in a clear jar so he can see it stack up. He had accumulated enough money to get a toy he really wanted…a TRANSFORMER RESCUE BOT!!!!
They just so happened to have said Transformer Rescue Bot at our second home, Target. So, the other day, we took our son on the epic quest of buying his first toy with his very own money.
Our incredibly dramatic and exciting arrival at our second home led us straight to the toy section where my son quickly realized he had a dilemma. Not only did Target have the Rescue bot he wanted, it also had a different rescue bot toy he didn’t even know existed until that exact moment. He now had a decision to make because he only had enough money to get one of them.
We put both toys in the cart to let him think for a while before he made his decision. He finally decided, after flip-flopping a few times and actually losing one of the toys in the store (which made his decision much easier). However, the lesson that he could not get everything he wanted with the money he had was invaluable.
We headed to the checkout counter and all was well.
My son waited his turn, put his toy up on the conveyor and began pulling money out of his money jar and handing it to the cashier. He had just enough money to get the toy so when he had finished giving the money to the cashier, there was nothing left in his money jar. This began to register with him immediately. She handed him the toy and instead of joy and elation welling up inside, which is the reaction I was expecting, he had a complete meltdown!
After watching him walk around for a few minutes in complete disappointment I went over and began talking to him. Turns out he hadn’t made the connection that he actually had to give his money up in order to get the toy. It never registered that after he paid for the toy, he wouldn’t have his money anymore.
Now, it was very sad seeing him work through this in his head and I tried to take the opportunity to explain to him and console. But nothing I said could have trumped the experience he just had.
That thought, of having to part with your money in order to get something you want more is so engrained in how we live everyday I never even thought to teach it to him.
It made me think about all of the random stuff I buy without even thinking.
Money is valuable. You work hard for it. And whenever we make a purchase we are saying we want whatever we are purchasing more than the money it requires to purchase it.
That should probably hurt more than it does.
Who would’ve thought I could learn that from a Transformer and a 4-year-old.