Many of you may have already noticed that when you offer to buy something for your child, he or she is usually eager to let you do it. Often this eagerness has little to do with how much the child actually wants the thing you’re offering to buy. He or she is just excited because it’s always fun to get new things, especially when someone else is paying.
However, when it comes to spending THEIR money, it’s a completely different story! If I may, let me tell you how I figured this one out on my own.
Many years ago, when my son Andrew was a teenager, he became so hard to buy gifts for that I got in the habit of just giving him money to buy his own gifts. We’d then schedule a shopping trip so he could buy something he wanted. He usually wanted clothes so we’d end up in a department store or a mall, walking from here to there, comparing prices, talking about whether a particular pair of jeans was worth $40, whether he wanted or needed new underwear?..?You get the picture.
One afternoon, a couple of days after Christmas, he and I were having an annual exhausting experience and after a few hours I couldn’t take it anymore. He simply couldn’t decide what, if anything, he really wanted. I got frustrated, reached into my wallet, pulled out a nice crisp $100 bill and handed it to him. I said, “Here. Buy whatever you want.”
He took the bill, looked at it, looked at me, put the bill in his pocket and replied nonchalantly, “Let’s go home. I really don’t want anything.”
I was speechless! What had just happened? More importantly, what had I just learned? I realized then and there that it’s easier to spend someone else’s money than it is to spend our own. From that point on, things became much easier financially between my son and I.
Today he is financially self-sufficient, uses credit cards wisely (he has one that awards points and he pays it off every single month), and regularly puts money into his ROTH IRA, which his Dad and I helped seed, of course. I’m proud to say, I practiced what I preach with him, and more importantly, I can say that it works.
NOTE: I didn’t use the type of allowance in my book with my son since it didn’t exist then and I had no idea what I didn’t know back then. He did get an allowance, however, and quite a lot of coaching from us, and I know that helped get him to where he is today.