I am Very frugal by nature so I am always thinking before I buy something "Do I NEED this or Do I just WANT this?" I have saved many "pennies" by truthfully answering to myself that it is a WANT. I usually save up "extra" money from online surveys and focus groups to buy my WANTS. I want my boys to understand the value of money and especially the difference between a "Need vs Want". My oldest child, 11yrs old, got a BIG lesson in WANT vs. Need this past weekend.
One time a year, Tax Refund Time, we give each of them $100 to get some of their WANTS. We figure "we wouldn't be getting such a refund without them, so they get "FUN" money when we get our Tax Refund. We almost always get our refund at the end of March-Mid April. Our oldest has his birthday in April, so we usually pitch in a little more if he is looking at "big ticket' items. He had been eyeing a Nintendo 3DS as the new games coming out are only going to be on 3DS format. He found one he liked and we helped him pay the rest over $100 as his B-Day gift. He was happy and content with his 3DS until about June. He then started "whining" that he wanted a 3DS XL(same type of system, but a bit bigger). I told him he would have to save up or find ways to make to the money on his own.
I explained to him that:
1) His current system was only a couple months old and in PERFECT working order. So his request was a WANT.
2) We don't have $200 to get him a WANT, there are Household NEEDS that must come first.
3) I want him to learn he can't and won't get "instant gratification" in life.
He was upset and whiny, but determined to make the money. He had been thinking all summer about ways to earn money but LIFE got busy, so he never accomplished any of his ideas. Well a couple weeks ago, all that would change.
I received a call from a Focus Group company that I am signed up with. The company was looking for 8-12yr old kids to do a focus group and it would pay $100. He qualified so we signed up. The focus group took place on Wednesday August 7th in Downtown Chicago from 11:30am-1:30pm. He completed the focus group and was paid $100. The boys and I made a day of it and stayed downtown for a while and walked around. GREAT Day!!
He knew he needed $100 more. The weather and time were cooperating so on Saturday August 10th, he did a lemonade stand. We had stopped at Costco the night before and got Lemonade Mix and Big Red Solo Cups. He spent his money as I felt "Loss and Profit" was a good lesson in all this also. He was wise in asking us to take him to Costco as the supplies only cost $17.77. He also chose to spend a few more dollars at Costco on some "wants". My husband and the 11yr old went outside on Harlem Ave(a 6 lane highway, the street we live on) for 90 minutes on Saturday and made $40. He now had about $110 due to the cost of supplies and other goodies he spent money on. He was determined to get the 3DS XL soon and planned on doing another Lemonade stand on Sunday.
I was sitting there and an idea came to me. I suggested to him that maybe he should consider trading in his current 3DS to get store credit at GameStop and that would help him reach his goal sooner. He responded NO way, he wanted to keep it. I said OK your decision. The next morning, while in church service, he whispered to me that he wanted to trade in his current 3DS XL. We get back home and I call our local GameStop and ask about trade in value. They tell me normally it is about $50 for 3DS systems. The better news came when they said "Although right now we are having a Double trade in value" deal, so the $50 would be $100. SCORE, he was soo close to his goal. He also found a few games to trade in and off we went to GameStop. He traded in the 3DS and about 4 games and received a credit of $124.15!! Woohoo, he had enough to get the 3DS XL!! The Game Specialist asked him what color and he choose Red. He had to pay $77.04 with his cash and even had enough to buy his 2 brothers a Pre-Owned DS game! He is a VERY VERY happy 11yr old!!
I am soo glad that I was able to teach my 11yr old all these lessons about Money and Responibility. My sons try to be a part of the "Gimme Society" that is currently happening all across America, but I REFUSE to be a part of that. I want my boys to realize that things in life, both NEEDS and WANTS, have to be EARNED and not Given! I admit that we couldn't "AFFORD" their every want, but I know even I had "all the money in the world" I still wouldn't be allowing my Sons to get instant gratification!
I LOVE being able to Train my boys to be Hard Workers and to EARN their WANTS!