I’m sort of a late comer to getting this. I’ve always run a tight budget and kept our spending down, but as our boys have gotten older, we’ve had to spend more – but I noticed a lot of what we were spending money on was silly stuff that I wouldn’t normally spend money on. BK after doc appt.’s, a snack from the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon, a candy bar after soccer (notice will you…. it’s all food. Boys eat. And eat. And eat…..)
I’ve always talked with them about buying sales, looking for the better price, waiting for the better deals and included them when shopping so they knew how much things really cost. However, a few weeks ago when we were out, and the boys wanted to get something on the go and I told them we didn’t have the money for that – they were shocked! You mean, money doesn’t magically come out of the ATM? You mean, there isn’t endless money on the debit card? You mean, there isn’t a money tree in our back yard? Yes boys – the sad, sad truth is that there is a limit to mom and dad’s money!
Ok, I’ll give you that the oldest gets this now. He makes his own money and knows that he only has a certain amount for gas and fun before his account yells at him. But the younger three are less aware. They get a dollar, the spend the dollar. That’s about the end of it.
So how exactly do you teach a 14, 12 and 10 year old about the “money tree”?
I got it! On our weekly calendar I put up how much their weekly allowance for “fun money” was. (They do chores, but they don’t get an allowance – it just didn’t work in our house) This included food not made at home, snacks, movies, candy, video games they all wanted. Anything they wanted to buy together and didn’t have the money for themselves.
They were amazed at how little there was at first. “Really, that’s all we get?” “Yup, spend it wisely!” But as they started working together on what they wanted, what was important and maybe even saving some of it up for things they REALLY wanted, they started to actually enjoy it! They realized how much was really there…. if they didn’t spend it on “stuff”.
It’s great to see them get the gist of a budget. So far this week, out of $25 for the whole week, they spent $5 on soda for their $3 movie download. That’s it!
On top of this, they decided that they wanted to spend half of what they saved up, to help pay for trick-or-treat supplies. I was a bit taken back by this, but very proud!
So I guess my venture into teaching them budget skills is starting off well! Now – to find that money tree?