I sometimes feel guilty about what I did to our daughter. Was I being mean or wise? I’m still not entirely sure. This goes back a few years to when our daughter, let’s call her Penny, was about 8 years old. She was getting a small allowance that seemed to take care of her miscellaneous wants. But there came a day when that allowance wasn’t enough for what she wanted.
We did not make her allowance contingent on doing certain chores as we wanted those everyday responsibilities to be just part of her routine. When our kids wanted more money than they had, they could do extra chores to earn it. I kept a list of chores and what they paid on the refrigerator. Mostly the kids would pick the easier chores even if they paid less. Human nature perhaps.
Penny seemed happy with this situation until she saw an amazingly beautiful stuffed elephant. I wasn’t interested in getting it for her birthday or Christmas because she had so many stuffed animals already that she didn’t play with very often. But this elephant was big enough to give a decent hug. It was a luxurious gray plush with pink satin ear linings. It was love at first sight.
You can’t reason with love. She begged all through my arguments for not getting it. She said she would pay me back if I bought it. I felt a little like Scrooge at this point, but it did seem to be a learning opportunity. So I agreed. I should say that I had never done this before this incident and never again afterwards.
Basically, Penny had to forgo her allowance until the gorgeous pachyderm was paid off. You can guess what happened. Her infatuation (yes, I’m calling it that) wore off long before the payments stopped. I suppose I could have handed her allowance and then make her hand it back to really emphasize the transaction. But we just kept a record of it. Funny thing, she never begged to repeat the situation.
|An Elephant Never Forgets!|
To this day I feel guilty. Recently I asked her if she remembered buying the elephant on credit. She certainly did! I told her I felt like a mean mom for doing it, but she said she has thought of that elephant many times as an important lesson.
Penny is in her 20’s now and really does handle her money wisely. She doesn’t buy unnecessary things even when she can afford them. She makes a good salary, but she still watches for sales. She pays off her credit card in full each month. She’s currently saving for a house down payment. All I can say is, “That’s my girl!”
Have you found ways to teach your kids about money? Sometimes it’s the little things and sometimes it’s the bigger things, like a big beautiful elephant.
Thanks Jojo and David. We are fortunate that Penny learns from her mistakes. I have to remind myself sometimes to resist something that is just a “pretty, shiny thing.”
David @ Bankruptcy Canada says
Very Inspiring. I’s love to have a daughter like Penny. Kids should be clever enough to know how to be careful about finances Too bad, some young people refuse to learn how to be prudent with their finances.
Very inspiring. I’d love to have a daughter like Penny. We have to teach our kids the same thing. It’s for their future, anyway. The young ones have to watch out. It does not help them or us spending too much.
Debtgirl, you are teaching her a lot! I like how you said it was not a spending account!!!
Mr. CBB, I’m thankful for the way my parents taught me about money too. We don’t always realize it until we are adults.
I am working on this. My daughter is 13. She had a savings account before that I “stocked” for her. When we were out and about, she would always say.. I want that, I have the money, just take it out of my savings. She must have felt as rich as Paris. Anyway.. one day she said, I want that, take it out of my savings and I said, you don’t have any left. That was about a year or so ago. A couple of weeks ago, I took her to the CU and opened up yet another savings account. I then explained to her, its a savings not a spending account that that this is it, she needs to save! I tried to teach her about compound interest, etc. Well this weekend she is putting in 7.00!! So maybe it will work this time!
What a great story. I think what you did was smart and likely taught her something that she is using today and that is money smarts. Teaching kids young is smart, my mum and dad did and I’m thankful everyday. Mr.CBB
It is amazing, Travis, how something this early made quite a difference. When we gave her a credit card in college she never abused it.
Funny about pachyderm. My readers know all kinds of words!
Travis @Debtchronicles says
This is a great example of how it’s such a good idea to teach kids about money when they’re young. It’s something that seems to have made an impact on your daughter as she’s carried the experience into adulthood – but as a child, the stakes were pretty low.
Oh, and kudos for using the word “pachyderm” in a blog post about personal finance – a first I’m sure! 🙂
Thanks, Tackling Our Debt. It’s only human to be attracted to pretty things. Perhaps learning by experience is the best way to overcome these situations. The temptation to buy the latest shiny thing often goes away if we don’t make impulse purchases!
Tackling Our Debt says
Awesome post! I love the way you got your point about money across to her using a practical example instead of just saying no.
How many times have any of us purchased cars or furniture on credit and lost interest in the object prior to finishing paying off the loan. It has happened to me for sure.