We live in a fast-paced world.
We send texts to talk without having to wait for a call to be answered. We like our packages to arrive in 24 hours.
As great as this is, there are also downsides. It is teaching our children that they can have anything they want at a moment’s notice. They are not learning the gift of patience.
We are doing what we can to help our kids with this. We talk about what is important and when we can wait for something vs. when we need it right now.
One area we have covered is the desire for things. Sure, they want to get that bike or the new video game right now.
And yes, we could order it today and it would arrive tomorrow, but what does that teach them? Honestly, nothing.
We are working with our kids to learn how to save their money now and have delayed gratification in buying what they need.
How did we get started?
To be honest, it began when our youngest wanted a new bike helmet. Hers was fine but it was a bit childish looking (it had a large unicorn horn on the front).
She was upset that she had to wear it as she no longer liked unicorns.
Rather than get upset with her about her desire to get something new just because her tastes had changed, we focused on teaching needs versus wants.
She was only 10 at the time and that was a hard lesson for her to learn. We had her make a list of everything she used each day – right down to her toothbrush.
Then, she had to look at each item and decide what she needed to live and those things that she did not.
Once that list was done, we showed her the photo of the girl our family adopted through our church. We had her look at the list of needs and share with us the items that little probably did not even have.
It was an eye-opener for her and she has learned that her needs are sometimes wants after all.
Teaching her to save
Once we finished talking about the needs, we focused on wants. We explained to her that it is OK to want things. We all have items we want to buy.
But, we wait. We do not rush out and get that expensive item right away.
Part of the saving also shows her that we sometimes think we want things we really don’t. Once she had saved enough to buy that new helmet, she realized she did not want to part with her money for something so small.
She had worked hard and knew that the helmet was not that important after all. She continued to save and worked toward getting a magnetic playset she wanted even more.
What our kids are saving for right now
All three of our kids have learned these lessons. They get paid for doing chores above and beyond those that are expected (yeah, no getting paid to take out the trash in this house).
They all know that they need to save for what they want for at least six months. That way, they can not only have the funds but they will know for sure they really want that item (as kids are fickle and change their minds on a whim).
My girls are not saving for anything right now. They continue to save their money as they know there will be something in the future they want.
My son, however, has his eye on a new camera.
He is obsessed with fishing and videos. He wants a camera that he can use to record his outings.
His phone works but he wants something better. We’ve told him we will not pay for it, but he can certainly save his money and buy it.
How is he saving
As I mentioned above, we do not do an allowance here. Our kids are expected to do what it takes to run our house.
They have chores. They help clean the house. They do what we ask to run our house.
What they do earn money for are the things above and beyond.
For example, my son helped my husband clear brush on our farm. He did it without complaining and was paid for it.
He then came home and noticed our front garden was full of weeds. He took the initiative and removed them without being asked. He earned some money.
Our son now looks around our house to see what needs to be done and does it before we ask. When he can do that, then he can sometimes earn money (not always).
As a 13-year-old boy, he is limited with his earning abilities but keeps finding ways to make money.
He quickly saved enough for the camera. But, he has not yet bought it as he does not want to part with such a large amount of money.
I imagine he will buy it, but he wants to save more so he does not wipe out his savings account on something he wants, rather than something he needs.
Money lessons aren’t easy but if we don’t teach them to our kids, who will?