During the past few months I have been reshuffling my finances and having a good look on what I am spending and selling some of the stuff I do not use anymore (and it is in good condition to sell it – stuff that I would buy if I see it -).
Of course, my not so little one can see me doing this selling – taking pictures, writing something down, putting the items aside, packing them and subsequently posting them – and now we hit that stage where he asks why.
“Why are you taking pictures?” “Because I am going to sell it.”
“Why are you going to sell it?” “Because I need the money; because I do not use it any more”.
“Why do you need the money? Why you don’t use it anymore?”
“I need the money to pay my debts. I don’t use it anymore because I feel it is time for it to go to a good home.”
“And somebody pays for it?” “Yes”.
You can imagine how the conversation goes. Sometimes it is difficult to end it and to put a stop to it without loosing my cool.
When I first started to sell my things – the ones I don’t use, the ones that I love but hey, I must – it was hard and somehow uncomfortable to talk about debt, money and savings with my son. I feel I did not want to ruin his innocence and the magic there is in childhood with the cold hard truth that money does not grow on trees. But then again, it does not grow on trees.
He does have the concept of getting a coin because he does a chore around the house. He does have the concept of saving and using his coins to buy something he wants. He still does not understand that I must go to work so I get paid. That the money I get paid sometimes is not enough. Hence, I must boost up and sell my books, my clothing, my music.
I wonder if I am giving the right example. I wonder if I could ever explain to him that I am paying my financial mistakes (heavily). But in the other hand I want him to understand , leading by example that financial issues wont resolve by themselves and he will have to own them. You may wonder if he is too young for it. I give you an example that shows he is not and every occasion is good enough.
Say he got some well-earned coins from helping around the house – with tasks suited for his age and capabilities. He decides to take them with him because he had seen something at the local supermarket, and he is desperate to get it. As an adult you may realise that the thing he wants to get is just plastic and it will last less than 24 hours.)And sadly you will be right).
You advise it would not be the best investment and it will break in no time. You show an alternative, but he is set on his decision. I go with it. He is happy because he paid for it and the lady at check out gave him loads of praise for being such a big boy, whilst I remind him, he needs to get the change.
We get home, he plays with said item and…it breaks. I am tempted to say, “I told you so”. I have to bite my tongue and swallow each word. Instead, I let him run through his frustration. Why I don’t do is allow him to just discard it and get on with something else. As harsh as it sounds, if it is broken beyond repair, and it’s not used to generate / create something new (he is quite prone to do such things) it does not go to a pile of toys. It goes in the recycling bin (it is plastic at the end of the day). He gets more frustrated because he just “binned” his acquisition and there’s no way around it because neither he nor me can fix it. And he is few coins down.
This scenario will repeat itself several times.
Until one day he brings his coins to the shopping trip and there it is a great box of Lego. He counts his coins and he do not have enough; he needs to carry on saving. I have to refrain to say “I can give you the difference” or just surrender to those puppy eyes and say “go on, I get it for you”. Hard as it is, he has to save up. I gently remind him that he could do one or two “extra” chores and that will add to his stack. Fast-forward couple of weekends and he is at the supermarket with this pile of coins very proudly paying for his Lego box.
– Saving is cool
– Sometimes you waste money and it does not feel good, does it?
– Always get the change….