My wife and I both owned our own homes when we first met, so by selling the two we were capable of purchasing a pretty nice house that we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. We both work part time, but make enough to be able to make ends meet with enough left over for an occasional night out or weekend away.
Our children, however, seem to have gotten the inaccurate idea that we have an endless supply of money and therefore should be able to buy them whatever they want without question and either order take out or visit a restaurant nightly. The fact that they never get what they want and are fed home made dinners almost every night doesn’t in any way seem to dissuade them. I don’t believe them to be spoiled, just very persistent and quite possibly a little delusional.
It’s time to begin some real lessons about the value of money.
I expected it to be easy with the teenager. After an extended period away from home, with no means of supporting herself, I would have thought that an appreciation for the cumulative cost of basic necessities like deodorant and shampoo would have been acquired. She’s been encouraged to seek some sort of employment but so far her best prospect was rejected based on a dislike of somebody else that already worked there. We throw her a few dollars for babysitting once in a while and returning our bottles and cans is much more lucrative than it should be, but if she plans on driving anytime in the next decade, money is going to need to be saved.
With her little sister, the issues are different. When my parental alarms starting going off at the sudden quiet that had fallen over the house last week, she was found butt naked in the shower, using a sponge to clean the grout. Her explanation was that she knew that she wouldn’t get paid for doing any of the chores that are expected of her, such as cleaning her room. She was correct. I certainly didn’t expect that.
I was also surprised to learn that she thought her earnings from this chore to be enough to buy herself a television for her room.
I thought about it for a while and was convinced that I had come up with the perfect plan for teaching her about buying power. Since she asks for a toy pretty much anywhere that we go, the idea was to show her what she could get for $3.00. There really isn’t much that can be bought for that amount other than maybe a pencil or a single matchbox car, so the option would be given to wait until the following week and have $6.00 to spend, just about enough for most action figures. Again the option would be presented to wait another week. Eventually I’d agree to buy one of the items that I seem to say “no” to just about every trip.
Unfortunately I’m about as in touch with the latest trends for five year olds as I am with the teenager. Apparently the latest craze is something called a Mashem, a squishy, pocket-sized figure that’s a less bendable version of the old Stretch Armstrong that I had as a kid. Pretty much any licensed character you could want is available, from Avengers to My Little Ponies to Star Wars.
They seem to be available everywhere and have almost an entire aisle to themselves at Target. They cost $2.99 each.