Now that the holidays have come and gone and we’ve established a bit of a rhythm with my Little Man’s allowance, we have some updates. My son cannot wait to buy something with his money. You may recall that the last time I went to the store with him where he could buy something, I stopped him because I thought it was a bad idea for him as he would not have been happy with that particular purchase. But how are kids going to learn without making bad decisions and learning from them? We believe kids should make mistakes early and often so they make fewer as adults. So, my wife and I decided to let him buy what he wants moving forward (Within reason) and learn from it.
My wife took our kids to Huntsville for a visit with family and to the US Space and Rocket Center. I was out of town and could not go but I’ve heard great things about the place and my family had a blast. My son took his wallet and his $6 and my wife told him he could buy something that he wanted AND could afford. My wife reported back to me that the first toy he saw that was $6 he wanted to buy (After he realized the astronaut outfit was out of his price range). It’s a small plastic mechanical jet and he likes it. So, he bought the jet and while walking around the gift store he sets his eyes on another toy and finds out it was $6 and he wanted to buy it more than the jet but it was too late. He was out of money and couldn’t afford both. Tough lessons for a 4-year-old but important lessons nevertheless. His first experience of buyer’s remorse. Keep in mind he still likes his jet but wishes he had bought a different toy. I bet the same mistake will happen again but for now it was a good lesson for him to learn. Since this trip, he has been a little more hesitant to buy things.
Time for a happier story! When my wife and I started using cash for nonessential purchases, we often gave our loose change to our son to put in his Piggy and Hulk Bank (Yes, he has a Hulk bank and it’s awesome. See the picture below). A couple weeks ago, I was at the bank and asked for some change wrappers to roll up our change and see how much we had. We started with his Hulk and Piggy bank and then went to our collection from our cars in the change holders and we also had a jar with some coins in it.
You may remember that a goal we have with our kids is to help them understand that they control their destiny with the choices they make. We like the idea that if they can figure out how to buy it, we won’t stop them. Except exotic animals. No snakes, reptiles, or large mammals in my home. Horses scare me. So, when we go through the store at self-checkout, I’ve shown Little Man how to look at the change dispensers and see if there is some loose change. If we are at Aldi and there is a loose cart to grab it and get the quarter out of it. Not something I want to spend my time doing but to a 3 or 4-year-old finding a quarter is a thrill!
One Saturday we started counting up his change and to our surprise he had some $1 and $5 bills in his Hulk bank as well as a lot of coins…and for some reason rocks, paper clips, and fake coins. After separating the coins out in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters we began rolling. It has been decades since I’ve rolled coins. I initially thought we should go to a coinstar (A kiosk that you put your coins into, and it sorts them for you) but I think they charge 7% and I wanted my son to do some work and see the reward. So, he rolled dimes and I rolled everything else. It took a while but we got it done. And in the end, he had $51 between his rolls and bills. We were all shocked and he was pumped up! Then I decided to roll my coins and see what we had. $67 for a total of $118 between his and ours. Pretty cool thing to find. Sometimes as an adult you forget how some of life’s little things can be so neat. We also found some money from international trips we took a while back which is cool…other than the fact I have to figure out how to exchange the currency. Anyone going to Brazil or China anytime soon?
Back to Little Man. I took those rolls to the bank and brought back $25 for him to add to his wallet so he can buy something a little bigger or save it and get something even bigger later on. We are taking the remaining $26 and investing it. Yes, I know, it’s a small amount of money but I can invest it at Fidelity and Little Man can see how it grows over time…and fluctuates.
The first thing Little Man bought with his new money was a cinnamon roll to share with his mom. That purchase brought him a tremendous amount of joy and he was quite happy to have found some money to spend on something delicious and share with his mom. His next thing is a business fair in April. He’s already talking about making some purchases with his profits from the event. We shall see what he comes up with!
Rory Hartmann CFP®
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