Like most parents, I like to treat my kids: occasional movies, ice cream, the candy shop, that kind of stuff. I also like to emphasize the value of a dollar and encourage moderation. So how do you do both at the same time?
Here’s a technique I like to use:
- Set a quick budget for the outing. No tedious haggling, or the deal is off!
- Parent covers the budgeted amount.
- Spend more? Kid picks up the difference.
- Spend less? Kid pockets the remainder.
Simple. Effective. Even educational. The experience invariably leads to interesting discussions about things like comparison shopping, impulse buys, buyer’s remorse, pricing, relative value, marketing, etc.
By the way, having a family pack of prepaid cards, makes the process really convenient. Before making the purchase, just advance the budgeted amount with an instant transfer from your parent funding card to your child’s spending card. (The mobile interface is handy for this when you’re already on the go or even in the shop already.) Then have your child complete the purchase. That’s it. No messing with getting cash or manually recording the purchase.
Here’s my son holding his spending card freshly loaded up with my $3 candy advance.
Here’s a list of his transactions after the purchase. $16.90. Ouch!
The following father-son conversation ensued:
Dad: “Wow, you just blew a boatload on candy!”
Son: “Nah, it wasn’t that much.”
Dad: “Really? That’s more than 3 weeks of allowance! Look.” (Pulls out mobile phone and shows son the transaction history for his spending card.)
Son: “Hmm. You should give me more allowance.”
Dad: “Um, no.”
Son: “OK, then I’m going to make this candy last 3 weeks.”
Dad: “Now you’re talking!”
Son: “You know, this place is cool with all the big barrels of candy, but it’s kind of a rip off. You can get most of the same stuff way cheaper at the grocery store.”
Dad: “You can indeed...”