I went yard sale shopping last Friday morning. The weather was beautiful, I saw an ad for a huge multifamily sale on Craigslist, and I was in the mood to get out of the house.
As I was browsing the sale, I ran into my son’s soccer coach. She has two preschool/early school age daughters whom she home schools. We talked for a few moments, and then we went our separate ways, perusing the merchandise. I left and went to more sales.
A bit later in the morning, I ran into the coach and her girls at another sale. As they were shopping, one of the girls asked, “Mommy, can we buy this?”
Mom replied, “No, you already spent your money.”
There was a long pause, before the girl asked, “Well, can I just use your money?”
Everyone at the sale laughed. And the coach had a choice. What would she do?
One option would be to buy the item her daughter so desperately wanted. It was only a dollar or so, certainly not an amount that would put the family in the poorhouse.
And her daughter would be so happy! And I have to tell you, this little girl has the most beautiful smile. Who wouldn’t want to make her happy?
The mom had given the girls each their own spending money before they set out yard sale shopping. Apparently the girls had spent all their money at a prior sale.
So mom could just stand her ground and let her daughter experience the consequences of spending all her money earlier. But her daughter would be soooo sad.
Thinking about the short term, many parents would buy the item to make their child happy. After all, it’s only a dollar.
But what does that teach? Money is an infinite resource. If you run out of money, there will always be a way to get more, without working for it. And those of us who have been around a while know that’s not the truth.
By saying no, the mom would teach her daughter that once you run out of money, that’s it. There’s no more to spend. For a 5 year old, that’s a basic budgeting course, and it’s a good lesson!
So what happened? I left before the conversation was over, but let’s just say it wasn’t going the young girl’s way. I don’t think she talked her mom into purchasing that toy she wanted so badly. And as I was walking away, listening to the conversation between mom and daughter, I was impressed that this mom took the time to get on her daughter’s level and explain why she couldn’t buy the item.
So often it’s tempting to brush our children off when we’re busy or in a hurry. But it’s important to take advantage of small, teachable moments. These are the lessons children will remember for a lifetime.
Photo by kamshots.
If you like this article, please sign up for free weekly email updates.
I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
In accordance with FTC guidelines, I state that I have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.
Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. I do my best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.