Monday, 14 January 2013

Post Christmas budgeting - for kids!

As parents, or adults in general, we ordinarily have the task early in any new year, of trying to find a way of paying for the traditionally expensive month of December.

For me I have a double-whammy.  Max’s birthday is pretty close to Christ’s.  I mean, he’s not 2000 years old, but that his birthday is only a few days prior to Christmas.

(What’s the opposite of cashback?)

As a result I spend the early part of any year being even more frugal than for the rest of it.  Cutting back where I can.

But should children have to understand that and have to do the same?

In fact, my lad has the exact opposite, err, problem.

Due to the generosity of his family and friends he actually has money and vouchers to spend, much like I suspect millions of others do.

When I get vouchers (unless I’ve asked for them) I’m always tempted to use them to buy presents for other people throughout the year.   It at least means I’m not joining the I-bought-you-this-you-bought-me-that-lets-call-the-whole-thing-off not so merry go round.

I’m not sure that idea was remotely on the mind of my eight-year-old boy.  And nor should it be I reluctantly suppose.

However, I wanted him to learn from splashing his cash, as well as getting gratification and plastic crap with it.

My son is very lucky, he has very generous people around him, but as a result I fear he may grow up unappreciative, taking things for granted and have no real concept of money for nothing and your chicks for free.

One of principles I am keen on is that of delayed gratification.  I’ve read a tiny bit about the benefits later in life for any child able to wait for things, rather than needing an instant-over-all-too-soon hit of indulgence.

I recently helped judge a competition.  And reading through all the excellent entries I got some great new ideas to add to the ones I already have myself*.

So allowing my son to choose freely with his readies, but not instantly is a tip I have gleaned, adopted and instigated**.

This way, while I am not limiting his spending, I am at the very least making him wait, and think a little more about spending his money.  And if he changes his mind in the meantime hopefully he’ll learn lessons about what he really wants, or more importantly, what he doesn’t really need.

I have also taken the opportunity to try and teach him a bit of maths, and budgeting.

Starting with a bar chart, as he’s not quite ready for his inevitable spreadsheet indoctrination.

As a very visual learner, he can ‘see’ his money here.   And work out how much of an impact any proposed spending will have on his money stash.

Took him a couple of days to deliberate on spending the £2 for the Star Wars version of Angry Birds for our iPad.

And he’s yet to part with any more of his money, so may be it’s an idea that’s having some impact.

Or he could just be distracted with his respective birthday and Christmas bounties.

Have your kids splashed their cash yet?

*may actually also be stolen

**posh for stolen