Are you a saver or a spender? And why? Is it something you learned? Or is your financial personality something you’re born with? I used to think that how you naturally handle money is something you learn, but after watching my kids, I’m not so sure. I think some people might be born savers or born spenders.
My daughter, Liz, is 9 years old. She’s been receiving an allowance since she was 5. Yet, money doesn’t mean much to her. She puts her allowance away every week, and that’s it. In fact, I finally just started direct depositing her allowance into her savings account, because it was easier than going to the bank every couple of weeks to deposit all her money.
Occasionally she’ll want to make a purchase with her money, but usually it’s only after her younger brother buys something. I think it’s more of a jealousy thing than an honest desire to spend money.
In the past when Liz has misbehaved, we’ve tried docking her allowance as a form of discipline. It didn’t work. She doesn’t care. Money just doesn’t mean much to her.
And it’s not just money. She doesn’t seem to notice commercials on television. When I ask her what she wants for Christmas, she replies “I’ll like whatever you get me.” And it’s true. She’s never complained about a present, and she can find enjoyment in anything.
And clothes. At an age where the peer pressure is on to wear the right thing, Liz is just as happy to receive a bag full of hand-me-downs as she is to receive a brand new outfit. It’s all new to her, and that’s what matters.
Liz seems to be fairly receptive to my little talks on saving money and being a good steward of what we have. In fact, when we weren’t eating out last month, she was the first person to remind us of our goals. I think Liz is going to be a very frugal person throughout life. I’d like to say it’s because of my careful guidance, but……
….there’s Sam, my son. He’s almost 5, and he’s already a big spender. I can tell the Christmas season is coming up, because the toy commercials are starting, and Sam is constantly asking, “Can I have Imaginex Adventures?”, “Can I have that CARS toy?”, “Can we buy that?”
And it doesn’t stop with the toy commercials. He’s decided he needs a Kyle Busch car Fathead for his room after seeing one on a TV commercial during a NASCAR race. And I’ve already told you all about my adventures grocery shopping with him. No, Sam, I will not buy you a case of Coors.
He already notices fashion. He’s particular about what he wears. He doesn’t like corduroys. He has to have jeans. He does not like sneakers, unless they have CARS or Thomas characters on them. I’m having visions of Sam as a teenager, wanting a $120 pair of shoes! I can see I’m going to have to put some extra effort into teaching Sam about finances and the value of a dollar.
Two different children. The same parents. The same upbringing. Two different financial personalities. I’m becoming convinced that children are born savers or spenders. Spenders can certainly learn to be savers, but it doesn’t come naturally.
So what do you think? Are people born to be savers or spenders? Or is it something that is learned? And which are you?