Quite a few people have written about the value of money in this forum, but with this post, I wanted to share my own experience and thoughts.
Since our 7-year-old nephew was visiting, who is extremely fond of video games like many kids his age, we decided to take him to a nearby mall on one of the weekends. It has a gaming zone. He enjoyed quite a lot there.
The next day I overheard this conversation between him and his grandmother, my mother-in-law (MIL).
Nephew: I really had a good time yesterday.
MIL: Really? Do you know how much it cost?
Nephew: How much?
MIL: 500 rupees!
Nephew: That’s it?
MIL: So what do you think, you should have spent 1000 rupees?
This is a very regular conversation. But it got me thinking. Is it that in our enthusiasm to provide everything to our kids, we are forgetting to instill the value of money in them?
Do you remember how buying clothes used to be an annual or bi-annual indulgence ‘in our times’? Consider now. We buy clothes whenever we feel like, even when we have not thought of buying, we sometimes buy if we like something. Same goes for toys and books and everything else. And kiddie stuff is expensive these days. We buy it because we want to give the best to our kids. So, there are cupboards full of clothes, there are toys to fill an entire room and all sorts of books, and what not!
There has to be a middle path in which we do not go overboard while also provide our kids with the best in everything. Well, it is not that I have discovered the perfect way to accomplish that but there are few things which I have or would like to implement in teaching value of money to my son (almost 2-year-old now):
- When we go shopping, we must have a list; and we must stick to it. Most of the time when we go to malls, we invariably end up buying something or the other. We have to resist that. Personally, with a toddler, these days we don’t loiter around. We discuss where all will we be going and go to only those stores. But yes, when we go to supermarkets, though we always have the list, I seem to remember a lot of things which are not in the list. I am the guilty one usually. But I am learning.
- Most importantly, we have to be conscious about what we say about money (which is actually applicable for everything not just money) in front of the kids. Are we saying a 200-300 rupees toy is cheap? Are we buying block sets which cost few thousands, on a whim? Are we exhibiting similar trend with our own things – changing mobile phones frequently, buying expensive gadgets too often, ordering food from outside every other day?
- We must also explain when we buy expensive stuff, why we are buying it and that we think it is expensive. In fact, we must explain how money ‘works’ to our kids at the earliest.
- We should encourage the good-old habit of recycling and reusing. My son, in his enthusiasm, had torn apart quite a few of his board books. The first thought that came to my mind was buying him new ones, but I discarded the idea promptly realising what lesson he would learn from this. So, I asked my husband to repair all of them, and my son continues to ‘read’ from them.
- Be judicious in shopping for clothes. I have not shopped for his clothes at malls except for his first birthday. That too was on discount. The thing is if you visit a branded store, all clothes look so cute, one ends up buying more than necessary. So, we visit small, nearby stores for his cloth requirements. And I never buy too many because they outgrow very fast.
- I think we should take our kids to parks/museums/zoos more than Malls. First of all, it protects them from getting sucked into the mall culture (eating-shopping-playing) and offers more learning opportunities.
- My only problem area is books. I am passionate about books and buy a lot of them. I had decided to join a library and inculcate this habit in my son too.
Well, that’s the plan so far! Any suggestions?
I am discovering, with every passing day, that parenthood is a huge learning experience. Even my parents could not teach me things which I am learning because of my child. 🙂
Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She spends her days running after her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life