Teaching the Value of Ten Dollars

As a parent, I hear “I want” and “Can I have?” more times than I can count. It is annoying. But, it goes along with the territory. Kids just don’t understand that I nor my wallet can give into every “I want”. I could say I want to, but honestly I don’t. Kids, mine included, need to learn that they can’t get everything they want or think they need. They don’t understand that mommy or daddy sometimes just doesn’t have the money. They don’t understand how much things really cost.

With that in mind, I decided to teach a real world lesson in money to my daughters, ages 2 1/2 and nearly 5. It all started when we went to empty their piggy banks and sort out some change. Mixed in with all the pennies and dimes, were a few dollars here and there. Of course they both asked if they could have their money. Instead of whisking it all away to their savings account, I decided to give them each ten dollars. I told them they could take that money and buy whatever they wanted when we went to Target that afternoon.

Of course our trip took us to the toy department. We started in the Barbie aisle. My older daughter was drawn to a Barbie wedding set, complete with the flower girl and all the trimmings. “Mommy, mommy, I’m gonna buy this.” I didn’t even have to look at the price tag to know that it wasn’t in her price range. At $39.99, I had to tell her no because she didn’t have enough money…that and several other items we thought we couldn’t live without.

So, we moved over to the Disney aisle. This is going to be fun, I thought. She ran over to the rather empty “Frozen” section. She just had to have the Elsa dress up costume. But, at $19.99, it wasn’t coming home with us. This went on for a good twenty minutes, with me explaining each time that there wasn’t enough money in her tiny hand to foot the bill. Sure, I could have thrown in a few bucks for the items that were close to her range, but then my little lesson would be for nothing.

My younger daughter didn’t grasp the concept of not having enough money despite the amount of times I told her. But, she did understand the idea when I said no. I watched her wait for her sister to choose something I would say yes to before she made her decision .

After going back and forth between the aisles enough times to make my head spin, I thought we were going home with a new Cinderella doll. It was under ten dollars, meaning my girls would have some money to put back in their banks. Then, my older daughter saw something she couldn’t go home without. I looked at it and shook my head. Really? You want that?

At $8.48, this was my kids' choice!

At $8.48, this was my kids’ choice!

It was a “FurReal Friends” dragon that walks. I looked at the price…$8.48 on clearance (regularly $16.99 which I thought was crazy for something so tiny!). That’s my girl, finally looking for the sale! Once I said yes, a huge smile spread across her face. Little sister chimed in with a “me too”. I explained that at that price they would still have money to put back in their piggy banks. This made them even happier.

We went to the cash register where they each paid separately, getting their own change, bag, and receipt. It truly was Christmas in July. They were happy. I was happy. I felt like I really did teach them a lesson. I doubt it will last years from now when they want cars, but I’ll savor my small victory for now.