Author Topic: Do you let your grade schoolers spend their spending $ however they wish?  (Read 2787 times)

mountainmama

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My 10yo son does not get an allowance, but he's become pretty good at saving up birthday $, etc. He recently wanted to buy a drone. With reservations, I helped him pick out one in his price range. ($50) This was a lot of money to him, but it was something he really wanted.

Within a few minutes of him flying it for the first time, he flew it into a neighbor's yard, where it was stuck. This caused a lot of tears on his part and frustration on my part. After figuring out which yard we thought it was in, he hopped the fence and retrieved it. This was a week ago.

Yesterday, we went to a nearby park and he brought along his drone. (Yes, I agree that they can be annoying in a public space.) Instead of going into the middle of the giant field, he started flying it at the edge of the park and within 2 minutes had flown it into a yard neighboring the park and, once again, got it stuck. This yard had a giant wooden fence, through which we couldn't really see into and definitely couldn't hop over. After more tears, he walked around to the front of the house to ring the doorbell. (Actually, he went back and forth several times, trying to get his nerves up.) The lady was pretty rude, would not let him go back to look, left for a very short time and said it wasn't in her yard. When he returned to the park, we heard her say to someone 'That boy is not my responsibility.' (Ok, this part I'm just ranting about unneighborly-like people.)

After we went home, I made him write a letter and leave it on her door. It was the only thing I could think of to do. (Besides me going over there myself, but I felt too annoyed. I felt like it should be his responsibility to deal with the consequences.)

I feel more and more that I should not have allowed him to even buy it. Oh the drama! Do you let you children buy whatever they want with their own money?



nereo

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Iím thinking there are really two underlying questions here:

  • Are minors allowed to buy anything they wish with ďtheirĒ money
  • what restrictions and responsibilities - if any - should a parent impose on their purchases

Curious what others will say, but Iím comfortable both limiting and restricting purchases, though we try to establish pretty clear cut reasons for both.

It sounds like you had reservations that your child would not operate the drone responsibly, and then grew frustrated when he failed to operate the drone responsibly. Completely understandable, but hard to walk back once he has traded his money for a drone. If you were clear on your expectations and the consequences itís clear cut, but maybe thatís not the case here, and why you are looking for what to do now. If you donít know Iím guessing DS is even less sure.

YttriumNitrate

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Sounds like for the low price of $50 he received a lot of teachable moments.

I let my kids spend their money how they want. Mistakes are common, but that is part of growing up.

Blue Skies

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I might try to talk them out of it, but I wouldn't refuse to let them buy something with their own money unless it was a scam or illegal in some way.

My kid got a drone, but it was a bit cheaper than that and it is intended to be used indoors.  Hard to lose it that way.  If they get really good at flying it we could consider an upgrade, but it was a good place to start.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Sounds like for the low price of $50 he received a lot of teachable moments.

I let my kids spend their money how they want. Mistakes are common, but that is part of growing up.

This. Now that we have teens, & they have more money (earned through side jobs, and this summer - an actual job), we have a more formal plan for how money can be spent. 25% spent frivolously. 50% saving for college/longer term expenses. 25% in an investment account.

StarBright

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yep.

My 7 year old daughter decided to spend half of her savings on a gigantic gummie bear. We did tell her that it might not be the best use of her money, but she did it.

It has been over a year and she hasn't wasted her money on candy since. It was a good lesson :)

mountainmama

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It sounds like you had reservations that your child would not operate the drone responsibly, and then grew frustrated when he failed to operate the drone responsibly. Completely understandable, but hard to walk back once he has traded his money for a drone. If you were clear on your expectations and the consequences itís clear cut, but maybe thatís not the case here, and why you are looking for what to do now. If you donít know Iím guessing DS is even less sure.

Yes and no. I had told him on an earlier date that if he took it away from our house, it was his responsibility to keep it safe and that it was completely on him. However, even if those expectations are clear, how could I not give him assistance? Or feel for his turmoil over this?

I do wish I had steered him to a better part of the park, but it happened so fast and I also had our 7yo and dog with us.

reeshau

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I agree with what seems to be the general consensus: kid's money is theirs, and learning the responsibility that comes with it means it will sometimes be disappointing.  While we will give counsel to think about a purchase, we won't stop DS from making a mistake.

Exceptions would be where we think it might not be safe for him, or appropriate.  (i.e. a book that is too scary)

Like so many things in education, taking a path through these lessons in money that the kid determines themself will help make them stick.

mountainmama

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Update:  I guess his letter had an effect, because the woman called that she had found it! He rode his bike over to retrieve and we are all relieved. I do hope he learned a lesson.

Hula Hoop

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Yes - our kids can use their allowance money as they wish.  However, my younger kid (10) wanted to use her allowance money to buy a cheap phone and I said no to that as we don't allow them to have cell phones at their age.

The kids don't get a ton of allowance (3 euro a week and 5 euro a week) but they're great at saving up for things they want.  Younger daughter just bought herself a pokemon album.  Our policy is that we buy them stuff they need like clothes, school supplies etc and presents at both Christmas and birthdays along with some books.  If they want frivolous things like pokemon stuff, hobby related things, new lego etc apart from Christmas and birthdays they need to use their allowance.

2Cent

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We let them spend on many things and only advice that some things might be disappointing. The restrictions we keep are the instant gratification items. Like food, but also heavily advertised overpriced items like LOL surprise, or video game items. I feel kids should not get used to spending money on that kind of thing as it can be addictive.

I want to establish a "normal" for them where they make do with what they have and  not give in to all the temptations to spend.

sadiesortsitout

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I exercise veto power-- I have to live with what he brings into the house!

DadJokes

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Sounds like for the low price of $50 he received a lot of teachable moments.

I let my kids spend their money how they want. Mistakes are common, but that is part of growing up.

Agreed.

Additionally, mountainmama, it seems like you've handled it very well by making your child deal with his own mistakes, both letting him be the one to talk to the neighbor and having him write a note to leave on her door. It sounds like your child has learned a lot of valuable lessons over the course of this event.

If he didn't learn any lessons here, I'm sure he'll have plenty more opportunities to learn the same lessons. It's so valuable to let kids make mistakes when they are kids and the consequences are minor.

mountainmama

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We let them spend on many things and only advice that some things might be disappointing. The restrictions we keep are the instant gratification items. Like food, but also heavily advertised overpriced items like LOL surprise, or video game items. I feel kids should not get used to spending money on that kind of thing as it can be addictive.


This is really where I struggle. I guess I want to protect them. I know they need to learn how it feels to regret wasting money on something that won't be very satisfying, but I also want to protect them from disappointment! I do have a no junk food rule. (Their dad buys them enough 'treats'.)

mountainmama

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Additionally, mountainmama, it seems like you've handled it very well by making your child deal with his own mistakes, both letting him be the one to talk to the neighbor and having him write a note to leave on her door. It sounds like your child has learned a lot of valuable lessons over the course of this event.

If he didn't learn any lessons here, I'm sure he'll have plenty more opportunities to learn the same lessons. It's so valuable to let kids make mistakes when they are kids and the consequences are minor.

Thanks, DadJokes! I definitely learned some lessons, too...

Plugging Along

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We let them spend on many things and only advice that some things might be disappointing. The restrictions we keep are the instant gratification items. Like food, but also heavily advertised overpriced items like LOL surprise, or video game items. I feel kids should not get used to spending money on that kind of thing as it can be addictive.


This is really where I struggle. I guess I want to protect them. I know they need to learn how it feels to regret wasting money on something that won't be very satisfying, but I also want to protect them from disappointment! I do have a no junk food rule. (Their dad buys them enough 'treats'.)

Our jobs are to protect them - from harm, any thing dangerous, unsafe or immoral,
Disappointment is a part of life and using safe moments to tach them how to handle it is important. 

I have always let my kids buy what ever they want starting at 4 as long as it wasnít harmful, and age appropriate.   Ever time they wanted something, we would use it as a learning opportunity about thinking about what they buying, what value It would bring them, if it was a need or a want, if there was alternatives to buying or cheaper ways (sale).   We would also talk about any reservations or risks that I had. 

Once they height about all of his, they would make an informed decision.   Sometimes waiting for a sale, sometimes deciding it was not worth , and Sometimes buying iit.  After Ty bought it, would talk about it if it met their expectations and would thye do it again. 

 I remeber one Time in Disneyland. The oldest was about six. She really wanted the stupid expensive Mickey cookie. We made her wait and think about it and after most of the day she still wanted to go back across the park and buy it. After spending more than a quarter of her budget  (six dollars) she took a bite and made the most awful face. I asked her what she thought and she replied itís not the most awful cookie but definitely not a great cookie and not worth it. We used it as another opportunity to talk about advertising and how things may look really good but just arenít worth it and value.   For years, we see that as example of thinking about what we buy. 

Itís natural for us as parents not to want our kids to be disappointed and protect them. However these are the opportunities that are the best learning ones. 

2Cent

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You got lucky with the disappointing cookie. The problem for me is that they are so hyped up by the ads that they're perfectly fine with losing all their money. It's not like they really need it for anything later as they have all the basics covered by us. They just want to get the excitement of opening the beautifully wrapped toy and get some small plastic figurine. Or worse, in video games nowadays the big marketing model is to make the game free and push kids to spend money on virtual items or shortcuts. Those games are designed to generate addiction in kids I feel like once they open the door of spending money, it may become very difficult for them to resist.

I wish I could teach them without exposing them to addictive practices. Otherwise it feels like giving a kid a drink to show how bad it tastes, but they end up wanting more.

Chris Pascale

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My 2nd daughter set a goal to buy new bedding and curtains. As she approached her $200 goal, she realized that we'd buy the stuff for her at some point, and that she'd rather have the cash.

About 6 months later, we did.

My 3rd daughter once remarked that if she'd bought the stuff she really wanted, she'd have had whatever was trendy when she was 7, which she didn't like when she was 9. Seeing this, she didn't want to collect the things that interested her at 9.

2Cent

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My 2nd daughter set a goal to buy new bedding and curtains. As she approached her $200 goal, she realized that we'd buy the stuff for her at some point, and that she'd rather have the cash.

About 6 months later, we did.

My 3rd daughter once remarked that if she'd bought the stuff she really wanted, she'd have had whatever was trendy when she was 7, which she didn't like when she was 9. Seeing this, she didn't want to collect the things that interested her at 9.
Nice to see your daughters have caught on to calculating for longer term. Have you introduced them to the second hand market yet? It was amazing for me to find out that some things can be gotten for much cheaper in almost new condition. Also that some things actually keep their value or increase. That will really alter their calculations and help them to buy things that retain value.

Michael in ABQ

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For the most part, yes. Our kids have never received an allowance. Instead, I pay them 5% interest - compounded weekly - on whatever money they have saved. They can earn some money around the house like $1-2 per bag of leaves raked up, $0.01 per weed picked, or sometimes paying $0.25 to a few dollars for some particular chore that is outside the norm. So, unloading the dishwasher or emptying the trash is just expected but going around and cleaning all the bathroom mirrors might be worth $0.50.

Anyways, as our kids have gotten older, they've been better about saving. #2 routinely has $100+ saved so he's getting $5+ per week in interest. They've also become more discerning about how they spend their money. More spending on things like LEGO that will last years vs. some cheap toy that will break within a week. I still try to convince our younger kids that maybe they should save for a higher quality toy or something they care more about, but as long as it's within reason we let them make mistakes.

lutorm

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I really liked @Nords book Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence. Check it out if you haven't already.

Nords

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I really liked @Nords book Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence. Check it out if you haven't already.
Thanks, @lutorm!

Carol and I encourage people to find the book (in any format) at their local libraryÖ try before you buy.  ChooseFI also has a great video on building the spreadsheet for the Kid 401(k).

Update:  I guess his letter had an effect, because the woman called that she had found it! He rode his bike over to retrieve and we are all relieved. I do hope he learned a lesson.
It sounds like youíre doing fine, @mountainmama.  Heís managing his money (by saving it for a goal), heís learning to make choices (good or bad), and heís learning that they have consequences. 

itís all going about as well as can be expectedÖ and heís going to remember these teachable moments for years to come!  You wonít even have to remind him.

The key is to give him more chances to handle money and make decisions with it. 

You can also start the concept of saving for a goal with the Kid CD, which pays (for example) a penny per dollar per month.  (Use whatever numbers you want here, because youíre the banker.)  Heís probably old enough for other incentives like jobs around thehouse (to earn more spending money) and profit-sharing incentives like helping find coupons for food that the family usually buys.

mountainmama

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Thanks, @Nords. I'll check out your book, too!

Hula Hoop

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The only time I've used my veto power on how they spend their allowance money was when one of my kids wanted to use hers to buy a cheap tablet computer.  I didn't think that a kid that age should have their own tablet so I said no.  Also it was suspiciously cheap.

Apart from that - they've used it for all kinds of things, some of which were a complete waste of money.  But since they only get Euro 3 and Euro 5 per week it was OK.

Sugaree

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I "make him" save half of his allowance.  What I mean by that is that it goes directly into a savings account and he never sees it.  Every couple of months we check on the balance and talk about savings.  He is currently building an emergency fund and after that he can move anything beyond that to his UTMA.  The other half goes on his Greenlight card.  I try very hard not to pass judgement when he wants to spend it on Fortnite dances and stuff I find dumb. 

The only thing I've vetoed is what, as an adult who's been Interneting about three times longer than he's been alive, was an obviously spammy and suspiciously cheap PS5.  We had a talk about things being too good to be true.  He's currently using one of his Greenlight buckets to save up for one "when they're finally available again."  He doesn't know that he's getting one for xmas. 

lifeisshort123

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Re: Do you let your grade schoolers spend their spending $ however they wish?
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2022, 05:16:19 PM »
I have to offer a personal view on this.

Growing up, we received a small allowance in coins that would go in a jar based on tasks we completed at home.  No tasks, no money.  That makes sense to me.  The coins would then sit in the jar.  When the coins became too full for the jar, we would then ďconvertĒ those into post it notes that said $1.00 on them.

We never were allowed to spend this money, and this money was never invested either.  It just ďsat thereĒ, accruing more yellow post-it notes and old pennies week by week. 

Though this did teach one valuable lesson - that working allows you to earn money, it failed to teach us the benefits of money, and how it could work for us.  Our parents bought us what they determined we needed, and, typically, at least at that age, there was little ability to ask for or negotiate for wants.  I think there is a great lesson to be had in teaching kids from an early age about how money works, and allowing them to make mistakes with money, and also letting them discover that buying something they ďreally really wantĒ might make them momentarily happy, but it will not make the world perfect for them.  I wish I had learned that lesson at a younger age, rather than as an adult.

GuitarStv

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Re: Do you let your grade schoolers spend their spending $ however they wish?
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2022, 06:56:37 AM »
My son is allowed to buy whatever he wants with his money . . . provided that it doesn't interfere with regular family rules.

So if he wants to buy a toy - cool no problem.  If he wants to buy chocolate bars to eat before dinner - no bueno.

You need to be free to make mistakes with money to really understand it's value/importance.

Laura33

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Re: Do you let your grade schoolers spend their spending $ however they wish?
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2022, 01:14:54 PM »
We let them spend on many things and only advice that some things might be disappointing. The restrictions we keep are the instant gratification items. Like food, but also heavily advertised overpriced items like LOL surprise, or video game items. I feel kids should not get used to spending money on that kind of thing as it can be addictive.


This is really where I struggle. I guess I want to protect them. I know they need to learn how it feels to regret wasting money on something that won't be very satisfying, but I also want to protect them from disappointment! I do have a no junk food rule. (Their dad buys them enough 'treats'.)

So, really, the "teachable moment" was for you, eh?  ;-)

I joke, but the hardest thing about parenting for me was letting my kids make their own mistakes, particularly when it was SO OBVIOUS to me exactly what was going to happen.  The problem is that for most kids, that's how they learn.  I mean, I'm sure that out there somewhere is the perfect kid who always managed to internalize all parental lessons without once having to touch the stove themselves just to see if it really was hot.  But I certainly never had one of those kids.  IME, the more determined the kids are to ignore parental advice, the more they need to be allowed to do it themselves and deal with the consequences.  No matter how painful it is (to you!!) to watch them go through it.

When my firstborn (the one who taught me the above lesson about pigheadedness) was a toddler, my DH would let her play on the playground by herself, as long as she was within a couple of feet from the ground (no matter how nervous I was about letter her do it herself!).  But the second she started climbing up to 5-6' in the air, he'd be right there to catch her if she fell.  And that became our lifelong parenting analogy:  we let her take the 2-foot fall, but not the 5-foot one, so she had the freedom to play and to learn that gravity isn't just a good idea, but all without facing a fall that could truly damage her. 

To a 10-yr-old, a $50 drone feels like falling from the Empire State Building -- but from the parenting perspective, it's really about 6" off the ground.  And you both navigated that fall very, very well. 

The thing is, we can't actually protect our kids from all unhappiness and disappointment, and we do them a disservice if we try.  The reality is that the world is going to toss them disappointments right and left, and part of growing up is learning the skills to manage that.  And that means that our job as parents is to periodically let them make their own mistakes -- even though we could have prevented it, even though we have to watch them be sad and dry their tears*, even though they have to do things they're nervous about like knocking on a neighbor's door or writing a letter -- because it is the very fact of going through that that teaches them how to deal with those types of scenarios.  Which, circling back to the above, means that they actually need to take the occasional 2' fall, so that when the 3' fall comes along the following year, they're able to handle it, and have started to build confidence in their ability to do so.


*Without ever actually saying "I told you so," which IME is the hardest parental task of all.  ;-)

malacca

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Re: Do you let your grade schoolers spend their spending $ however they wish?
« Reply #28 on: September 16, 2022, 10:12:46 PM »
My kids have no desire to spend their money. And they are kind of rich. It is weird - but they have no desire to spend their or my money.

What do you want for your birthday? No answer. Man, when I was a kid that list would have been a mile long.

OK, my kids to want a Tesla Cyber Truck. But Elon isn't making them.

My kids are already going for FIRE at 11 and 14.



Malossi792

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Re: Do you let your grade schoolers spend their spending $ however they wish?
« Reply #29 on: September 17, 2022, 03:57:00 AM »
Seems like they're seeing some great examples around them ;-)
Some if ot may come down to nature, I have enjoyed stashing my meager sums since I can remember having any money at all.

brandon1827

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Re: Do you let your grade schoolers spend their spending $ however they wish?
« Reply #30 on: September 22, 2022, 01:44:40 PM »
So far we let our son by whatever he wants with his money (within reason). He just turned 13, so what he most wants to spend on is clothes & shoes and video game stuff. We started a checking account for him and sat him down to discuss what that means and why it's a big responsibility. He said he felt so "grown up" when he saw his debit card. That he didn't immediately want to go out and spend all his birthday money on stuff was a win. We have a long way to go and have really just begun his true financial education, but we've already talked about "paying yourself first" and saving half of your income up front. It will be interesting over the next few years to continue to develop his personal finance muscles, but we are determined to send him into the world with a solid financial foundation that neither of us received.

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!