Over the weekend, my wife and I decided to reward the kids for being good this Summer and let them have a little fun at the toy store. We handed them each a $20 bill and said they could spend it on whatever they wanted. This was really their first time with a large amount of money to spend freely, and I was curious to see how it would go.
Our youngest is five years old, and being that age, he’s fairly impulsive. He knew what he wanted before we were even inside the store — the huge Lego crocodile boat! Well, I knew that set was beyond his spending limit but let the scenario play out. When we made it to the Lego aisle, he saw that the set was over $60 — well beyond his limit. He was pretty bummed, but we looked around a bit and then he remembered the Big Boots Police Station that he has been bugging us for since Christmas. This little guy LOVES his Big Boots, and when he saw it was exactly $20, he grabbed it off the shelf and hugged it until we made it through the checkout line.
Our other son is eight, and was much more methodical with his selection. No joke, we went up and down every aisle four times. He kept taking things off the shelf but then put them back after finding another more appealing choice. He settled on a G.I. Joe action figure (which was on sale for half price) and then picked a Big Boots truck so that his little brother could play with it too. That decision floored me, because he has never shown an interest in those toys–he was actually doing something nice for his little brother!
With those two toys in the cart, he had five dollars left over but chose to not spend it and opted to put it in his bank instead. Again, I was floored. If mommy and daddy were buying, you can bet he would have asked for a pack of Pokemon cards or something else to round out the $20, but when the money was physically handed to him ahead of time, he was much thriftier with it.
Maybe we’ll have to employ this technique more often in the future and avoid overspending on items that the kids don’t really want all that much. It was certainly an eye-opening experiment.
Have you ever done anything like this with your kids? What was the result?