Paying for Peace

 

Going to Target with Laura can be a challenge.  She wants almost everything that she sees.  My usual strategy is to let her pick something from the dollar section after we are done shopping as long as she behaved the entire time.  A dollar seems like a fair price for a peaceful shopping trip.

Today’s trip went a little differently.  We were in the hair accessory section, a danger zone with a 4 year old.  Despite owning practically a Claire’s boutique of clips, headbands, and barrettes, Laura really wanted a princess headband more than anything else in the whole wide world.

I was time crunched with Jung sitting in the car with a sleeping Jason.  I didn’t want to give in to her request, but I didn’t want to have a storming Laura on my hands.  My solution:  Laura could have the headbands, but she would have to pay me $5 for them from her piggy bank when we got home.  She agreed to the terms, and we finished our shopping.

This experience has left me feeling unsettled.  I don’t want to keep buying things for Laura.  I want her to learn to value and save money.  I’m just not sure the best approach to take.

What tools and techniques have you used to teach your children about money?  

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About Beth

Wife, mother of 2, worker bee - striving to balance roles and continually learn
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12 Responses to Paying for Peace

  1. NoJobJulie says:

    You’re doing fine. Mine are older and when the skating or with friends somewhere, I give them some quantity of money and ask them to bring some back to me. So far I think a dollar is all I’ve recovered.

    • Beth says:

      Sounds like your kids believe that when you’ve got it, spend it (especially mom’s money) ;). Maybe they are building secret college funds with all the change from outings with friends.

  2. mjray926 says:

    Hmm… sounds like she’s getting into the habit of getting things every time she’s in the store…. I’d suggest keeping up the “dollar per peace trip” routine. It sounds like a good one. I’m no parent, but I can tell you what my folks did with me and my sibs. They had us save up until we could pay for the items ourselves… So the more expensive items took much more saving up (and way fewer things bought.) Just an idea. I wish you luck on your adventure! 🙂 (P.S. We were allowed one item bought per month or so! Give or take a week)

  3. shoes says:

    For some reason neither of my boys have really asked for anything when we go shopping. I don’t know why. When they start wanting things, I think I will set up a chore chart for each of them and provide an allowance for every week their chores are done. My parents gave an allowance and for the bigger things later on (I distinctly remember really wanting a 10 speed bike I could not afford) they would pay for half if I could come up with the other half. I also remember them setting up a savings account for me before I knew how to write my name to teach me about banks and saving money. I think sticking to the dollar bin for good behavior sounds good since that is what she expects.

    • Beth says:

      It sounds like your parents’ approach worked to teach you about money :). Laura has started to track when she is helping by putting x’s on a piece of paper, so this is good time for me to put a more formal chore chart in place.

  4. Momma G says:

    Bribes are OK, but the carrot-and-stick can become a vicious cycle. Without the bribe (reward) in place, does she raise a stink? I like the idea of allowances for chores done, with a % set aside for saving and a % for giving to others. If Laura sees something she would like to buy, that is a good time to set a savings goal. Have her make a wish list. Maybe even have her shop around, include Ebay prices. Perhaps a really large item, you could pay half for, once she saves her half. For her age, Dave Ramsey suggests savings in a clear container so that she can see it grow. Maybe a thermometer chart could be used to measure progress toward her goal. A dollar item is a quick fix, “now” reward with little lasting value. Remember the spoiled child, Farouka Salt, in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? “I want it now!” she demanded. She made slaves of her parents. A container is sold also that adds up the total for you as you put in the change. One of my nephews uses this kind of container effectively with one of his boys by allowing that child to collect 25 cents from any one using potty language or forbidden words such as “stupid.” The child not only watches his own words, but is quick to correct any offenders (and collect his quarter). I was impressed with how effective this is in their home. As for behavior in a store, children who behave get to come with Mom and Dad; children who misbehave stay home. This is not as convenient, but one or two times left at home is effective: the key is to be consistent.

    • Beth says:

      Good point on carrot and stick creating a vicious cycle. I like the idea of word monitor. Laura already takes us for task if we say stupid, so would probably enjoy that role. So far, she hasn’t had a big wish item that wasn’t handled by b-day or X-mas.

  5. Kana Tyler says:

    The dollar-item is brilliant, and (in my experience) the pay-for-it-themselves plan for bigger items DOES teach them (over time) about saving and planning… When my son “had” to have the Pokemon, agreed to pay me back, and then later”had” to have something which his Pokemon-depleted piggybank couldn’t support, I had the perfect “teaching moment”… Money is a finite resource, if you buy one thing you may not be able to buy the other thing you want MORE, if you want the second thing you’ll have to save (and maybe EARN–another lesson about where money comes from) and resist other impulses, planning and prioritizing is part of making purchasing-decisions… I choose to let the kids spend their own money however they choose, and it always goes with some discussion about the choices. The area where I DON’T give in is buying things FOR them on request when their funds aren’t sufficient–they have to wait and save, just like Mommy does when she wants to buy something she doesn’t have enough money for right now.

    That’s been my approach with my own kids since they were Laura’s age, and at 7 and 10 they now both plan, save, and don’t even bother any more to beg ME to buy for them. It’s been an interesting (but similar) process with my teenage step-sons, whose early “training” was at the hands of a woman who can’t keep any amount of money in her pocket for more than a few moments, and consequently (no matter how much money she gets) is always “broke” and begging… The boys live with US now, and actually came to me to ASK for lessons in budgeting. If nothing else, our way-below-poverty-level family situation is a testament to the power of careful budgeting to squeak by. 😉

    • Beth says:

      Kana, thanks for letting me know what has worked for you. Your post reminded me that as long as spend is less than income, life is good. When the equation reverses, life will eventually be not so good. Your stepsons are lucky to have you as an example and teacher.

  6. this is an awesome post and a great idea with the dollar strategy. I was just thinking about this – and read off of another post – I want to let my boys shop for Christmas gifts in the dollar stores but making them work for the dollars first. I give in sometimes – for small items. You’ve turned her on to something now though – she has a bargaining chip. This can be a good thing b/c if she doesn’t have the money – you can teach her savings and such. Great post!

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