Do your children save? I’ll bet they do.
If they are anything like mine, they save lots of stuff: candy, collections of things they find (shells, rocks, click pencils that no longer have erasers or lead), papers that go in the round file, feathers, things they cannot bear to get rid of, etc.
Today, though, I am thinking about saving money. We do give our children an allowance. It isn’t much compared to what we know lots of children get but we feel good about our choices. The girls are expected to do the things around the house that they are asked to do and to pick up their rooms.
One of the reasons we do the allowance is because they have to learn to pay for things on their own and to save for big purchases. This is a life skill that is missing from a lot of adults. Physical money – dollar bills and coins – are required in this rather than an intangible format. We don’t do a whole lot of regulating what they can spend their money on, though we would tell them no if they wanted to buy candy every single time they had the chance.
They tend to buy things like little toys we won’t buy for them, books, and, this one I love, things for each other. Truly, this is one I need to remember – when a sister wants something like a little doll at the dollar store or a sucker but doesn’t have her own money or is saving for something big and doesn’t want to spend it, one of the other girls often purchases the little thing for her. That generous attitude does my momma heart good.
Saving, though, is the reason I started this ramble. We encourage the girls to save their money for things they really want. If they want a $20 book, that’s fine. When they have enough money, I will drive them over to Barnes & Noble to buy it. But they do buy it. If they want to buy a bed for their doll, I will take them to Target and they can buy it. Each of the girls tends to keep a jar in her room and she has labeled it according to what she is saving for.
Recently, one of the girls was able to make a huge purchase. She had saved her money for over a year. At first she was saving it for the once-a-year trip we make to an American Girl store. Then, she saw that they were bringing back Felicity. Her saving took on a bigger and more intense purpose – Felicity. The doll would not be around for a long time so she knew she had to allocate her money carefully. Each time she got her allowance or money for a gift, she calculated how much more she needed, how long it would take. She asked for some extra tasks and helped her grandmother for some extra money. When she got really close, it had been over a year since she had started saving and her birthday was approaching.
To reward her dedication to her goal, I ordered the doll early and had it here to surprise her on her birthday. She still paid for Felicity but it was a joy for her to have the doll in hand and to know that all her dedication and saving had resulted in exactly what she wanted.
Saving teaches us several things:
- self-denial (which in this day and age is somewhat unknown but a very good thing to learn)
- goal setting
- dedication to a goal
- continued evaluation of progress
All of these, and more, are important life skills. We can tell our children to save their money but it is much more effective to allow them to spend and then have them realize they don’t have enough money for whatever it is they want because they have spent it on 50 cent suckers every time we were at the store. We have never stressed saving but we have stressed paying for things themselves. When a child asks “can we get an icee?”, my response is often “Are you paying for them?” I am sure you know what the answer is and that is the purpose of them having their own money – learn to allocate it to what is important and not waste it.
This is a teaching that is taught throughout the Bible. Jesus talks about money often. We use the word stewardship with the girls so they learn that it is not just about the dollars and coins but also about how we use the things we possess. Do we try to do everything for more money or do we share with others who have need? Stewardship begins in the home and saving is a good step in learning about that.
This is part of the Blogging Through The Alphabet series.