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Kids and Money: How to Save and Own Like a Ten Year Old Should

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Is your child on a hamster wheel when it comes to spending? Buying little purchase after little purchase with nothing to show for it? Read this post to find out how to graduate from the cycle.

Is your child a tchotchke addict?

Here’s an example.

Whenever you run errands on the weekend. . .

They will bring their hard earned allowance to spend it right away.

They manage to pick up whatever random item catches their eye.

It’s whatever makes them happy in the moment and actually stays within the dollar amount that they have on hand from their “paycheck”.

It’s hard to say no to that because they earned the money and they aren’t overspending.

And after all, they worked for it and it’s their decision.

Kids and Money: Get Your Kid Off the Trivial Item Pursuit and Start Owning More Valuable Stuff

So week after week, you’re allowing small doodads and miscellaneous items (with some parameters) to enter your shopping cart. Maybe random Pokeman cards, Rainbow Loom supplies, chapsticks, nail polishes, stickers, and other items that make the cut and find their way to the checkout lane every week as desirable purchases for a hardworking youngin’.

Here’s what I figure:

They are learning how to earn money, wait for it, manage it, and spend within an allotted amount. That counts for something!

After recently helping my own child spring cleaning her room with one of our cleaning games to get rid of clutter. I had her make two piles. One pile was for what to ditch and another was for what to keep. After seeing many nail polishes that received little usage, barely used, abandoned bracelets that lost their luster, and once treasured cutesy items that ended up in a heaping pile to ditch. She realized that she really didn’t have anything to show for all of her hard work.

She had a little look of shame on her face after I asked her why she didn’t use some of the items. She told me, “They don’t work well. . . It’s too hard to save for bigger items. I can’t wait. It takes too long.”

What this really means:

She is learning that some of the products didn’t live up to what she thought they would be. That happens to everyone. Also, she had more than her share of nail polishes and lip balms. She couldn’t realistically use all of its contents before the items expired. I’ll give her a girlfriend pass on those. We’ve all been there.

My husband and I had a talk with lil’ enthusiast and explained that she has to start saving and learning how to set long term goals. Otherwise, she’ll keep ending up with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t provide any long term value. We sat her down and explained that one day she’s going to want to own something. And she may have to sacrifice purchasing little things temporarily to meet much desired long term goals. We want her to more actively split the amount she earns to put aside for long term savings. As of right now, shes not that into the concept.

Two seconds after I said, “the right thing” to her. It really wasn’t the right lecture for her. That lecture went in one ear and out of the other. Because really. . .it shouldn’t be a lecture. It should be a conversation. A learning experience.

She’s telling me it’s hard to wait so long which on some level is pretty normal for a kid. We noticed that lately, her purchases have been very cat-centric. Notebooks with cute kitten covers. Cat posters. Cat books from school book fairs. We always joke that she may be one of those crazy cat ladies when she’s older. . . since she really wants a cat.  A pet cat doesn’t fit into our lifestyle right now. Besides the fact that we do not want one. As much as I feel bad, I know it’s not right for our family right now (or ever, really).

After seeing some students of mine go crazy about a class pet in a colleague’s classroom. I quickly started to reconsider our family’s “no pet rule”. Since we are trying to have her graduate from living her life allowance paycheck to allowance paycheck, we decided to meet her half way on her burning need to OWN a pet.

I first offered to get a fish.  This was rather insulting to lil’ enthusiast (she can be quite the negotiator/drama queen.) She didn’t say anything, turned pouty but stood there with arms crossed signaling her deep dislike for that suggestion. So I asked her if she wanted a hamster. She was  so surprised and thrilled. Thank goodness because a cat was out of the question and completely off the negotiating table.

Here’s our new concrete plan of attack.

1. I told her to get to work right away and research the cost and how to take care of the pet. She quickly searched the internet and started calculating the cost of her future furry friend.

Just say no to kitties and yes to hamsters.


2. We decided on a points system instead of using money to gain the desired outcome. We also came up with chores she could do for points. We decided that every chore would be worth five points.  Once she reaches twenty five points we’d buy an item for the hamster. The ball. The wheel. The water bottle and any other supplies necessary. This just makes the whole thing easier on everyone. Bigger chores are just broken into smaller chunks to be fair and still have her participate in more involved chores like meal planning. Not just sweeping steps and making Rice Krispies Treats.


3. I made a chore chart with a variety of chores for kids. I’m giving her choices for what to do so she doesn’t have to dread the process or any of the chores. Not that I’m giving her “skater” chores or anything like that. I just threw in a few she wouldn’t mind as much as others. Basically, I threw her a bone. Cut me some slack. In the big picture she’ll learn how to save.


4. In an effort to get her off of video games, she has to play more educational games with the family too.

I try to play games for extra practice. Sometimes I’ll let her play free math games online too. I just try to limit her time on gadgets as best I can.


5. Once her points accumulate and she reaches her target, we will get the desired supply. This works out perfectly for this pet because after researching, you actually have to set the home up for the hamster first before you bring it to your home.

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