Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer spending money for kids

With the summer, comes an increase in the amount of money spent on entertainment. I wanted to come up with a way to limit how much the kids spent each week.

It started a month or so ago with the ice cream truck. Every time that (damn) bell rings the kids look at me. Of course, I want to indulge them but I do not think it wise to say yes each time. In order for the kids to know whether it was a yes or no day without me having to make the decision each time, I decided I would buy from the truck once a week. If they wanted ice cream another day, they would have to use their own money. (I should write a post about how we do allowance.) That worked ok. The truck didn't come as often as I thought so I ended up buying it almost every time. Not really how I thought it would work.

After school got out, we started going to the water park where we have season passes. The food there is very reasonable. Plus, since we have season passes we get 20% off  at the concession stand. In the past, we would get a treat each time we went. We didn't go that often so it wasn't a big deal. This year I see us going more often. Again, I don't think it wise to allow them to have a treat each time since we will be going so frequently. Just like with the ice cream truck, I wanted the kids to know whether it was a yes day or no day without me making the decision each time. (It gets tiring being the bad guy.)

I told the kids they would each get $5/week for extra spending money during the summer. They could use it to buy a treat from the ice cream truck, treats at the water park, snacks at the movies, etc. My son asked if they could use it to buy toys and while that wasn't the original intent if they want to save it and forgo treats that was ok with me.

The first time we went to the water park they both spent their entire $5. It was difficult to watch and keep my mouth shut. I figured (like Love & Logic suggests) that this is a lesson better learned at their young age when the stakes are low ($5 each) than when they are older and the stakes are higher. First, they each bought an ice cream. Then they each bought a pretzel (which neither finished.) Lastly, they each bought a slushy drink, large of course. I reminded them once that this was their money for the entire week but let them decide how it was spent.

Unfortunately, this happened on a Thursday and the kids get their money for the week on Sunday. I was worried that the lesson would not be learned. They got to spend their entire $5 at one place and didn't have to experience not having money for something else. I told myself that we have a lot of time left this summer so even if they don't get it this time, there will be plenty of opportunity.

During dinner the following Sunday we hear the ice cream truck. Out of habit, the kids look at me. I told them they get their money for the week on Sunday if they want to spend it. Of course, they did. They ran outside while I got the money. We talked about the prices. I was so happy with what happened next. My son (age 5) bought one of the least expensive items. He bought one of the plain popsicles instead of one of the character ice cream guys. My daughter (age 7) didn't buy the least expensive, but she didn't buy the most expensive, either. I could see her looking at the prices trying to decide if the item was worth the price. Then, we went to the water park on Monday. They both bought a treat but they bought one. Today, we went to the water park for the second time this week. Again, they both bought a treat, but one. I know my daughter was looking at the prices because that was how she described what she wanted. "The dollar fifty one on the right."

What will be hard is if we do something else this week and they want to get a treat and ask me to get it for them. More likely instead of asking if I will get it for them they will say they will pay me back. I will have to be strong and say no. Sometimes that is easier said than done. We have a movie theatre where ticket prices are $1.50. We are talking about going to see Hop (again.) We always get popcorn at the movies. I know it will be a better lesson if I stick to the plan, but it won't be easy. They both have a little bit of money left so maybe they will be able to pool their funds and share.

So far, I am happy with this plan and it seems to be working the way I hoped. I'll have to try to remember to write about this at the end of the summer and give an update on how it worked the rest of the summer.

I am linking up to Works for Me Wednesday. (Darn, I was thinking it was Tuesday night. It's already Wednesday. I'm number 207 on the list. I might have to link up again next week so I can get closer to the top.)


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