I think the best way to get The Kids to appreciate the value of money is for them to have some and to choose how to spend it.
I don’t mean 20p/50p but a larger sum which would give them the opportunity to buy something decent because they would be able to afford it. If they only have 20p/50p/£1/£2 then they can only buy to that value but that would generally mean sweets/cheap toys. Give them £7/£10/£15 and they can get themselves a nice top/dress/book/art supplies/handbag/etc and a few sweets. Or they could get some sweets and save towards a larger purchase.
The Kids sometimes ask me to buy something online for them and they will repay the money. It would be so easy, and it is tempting, to just let them keep their money and pay for it myself. But I don’t; that would be doing them a disservice.
If they choose to buy something with their pocket money then it has to actually cost them. They always have to pay what they owe.
If they don’t actually have any money to spend then explaining the value is a very abstract lesson and abstract lessons are MUCH more difficult to understand. Maybe this is why so many young people get into debt very quickly when they become eligible for credit cards-they suddenly have all this money to buy whatever they want!
I’m not advocating giving kids lots of money, just an amount that would give them the chance to get something nice and save.
When B and I told The Kids that we were going to be selling the house and moving to a new place my precocious Miss L stopped what she was doing, tilted her head in thought then asked if she and M “could get £100 each from the sale of the house because we will get sooo much money from selling the house and because we live here too”. She was six years old at the time.
B and I thought that it was a reasonable request so we agreed. (Plus we loved that she didn’t ask just for herself!)
Over the course of the following months The Kids wanted to spend this money [that they didn’t actually have yet] and I let them. I thought about just saying no and making them wait until they had the cold, hard cash but then I realised that the lesson would teach itself.
L wanted an iPhone. She was desperate. I spoke to her about the dangers of spending money before she has it and about why she thought she needed a phone but she was firm with her decision to buy one. So I researched second-hand iPhones on eBay, asked our friends and family if they had any spare and asked in a local mums group if anyone had one they would sell to L.
We were lucky that one of our friends had an iPhone in good working order and L was happy to pay £50. I got a free pre-paid sim card, set-up the WiFi connection and downloaded Whatsapp so she could message us plus a select few others. She was pleased as punch!
After the phone she didn’t ask to buy anything else with that money so when we actually completed the sale on Friday (Hallelujah!!) she got £50 on Saturday. Now Miss L had £50 from the sale of the house plus her £10 pocket money for July- she couldn’t get to the toy store fast enough!
Saturday afternoon B took The Kids to Smyths but Miss L didn’t find anything she wanted to buy. She was thoroughly disappointed. She desperately wanted to BUY SOMETHING!
During dinner we talked about it and I reminded her that she could buy other things – it didn’t have to be a toy. This was a revelation. Her face lit up. So now we planned to go clothes shopping after dinner.
We headed to the children’s section, she gathered a few things that she liked and tried them on. Then we talked about the cost of each item.
L created a ‘yes’ pile and a ‘maybe’ pile. Some items were rejected because she didn’t like them enough to pay the RRP and because she didn’t want to spend all her money.
In the end she chose three items totalling £29; she was happy because she got to spend some of her money and had bought a lovely dress, top and nightshirt. I was happy because she didn’t waste her money on crap.
If we had been shopping from my wallet I think Miss L may not have been as careful – she would have been more emotional – and we could have come away with her being disappointed at only getting three things. Shopping from her own wallet she is much more rational but also gets a better sense of satisfaction.
As for M, he spent it all in advance so there was no large payday for him; he was very disappointed but took it well and accepted that he had spent it all. What a lesson!
[Just a note to let you all know that The Kids do not need to buy their own clothes; B and I provide everything they need.]