Today I was privileged to accompany Trinity on a VERY exciting errand. Shortly after her last birthday she decided she REALLY wanted to have her own camera. We told her that if she would like one she could save her money and purchase one when she had enough. We researched cameras, she chose one to meet her needs and set her goal of how much she needed to save. Ever since then her allowance has been stashed in a jar in her room and occasionally brought out for counting. Her goal was to be able to buy a camera in time to take pictures at Christmas.
This past week she realized she just needed $5 more to reach her goal. Then, one snowy December Tuesday, she received in the mail a crisp $10 bill as a gift. To say she was over the moon is an understatement.
So today we headed out to pick up her camera. As luck would have it, the store no longer had any of the particular camera she had picked out and would not sell the display model. Undeterred she looked at a similar model but it was slightly more money. After some quick math regarding the taxes we realized she would be $1.70 short to purchase that one. “Okay, I replied, there are some more over here that cost less. I’m sure we can find one in your price range.”
I could tell the salesman was carefully veiling his thoughts but I knew what he was thinking, “Come on lady….What kind of a cheapskate mom won’t give her 8 year old a measly $1.70 so she can get the camera she wants???”
The answer is: THIS cheapskate mom. But not because I didn’t want to shell out the $1.70. I kind of wanted to but I felt (or at least hoped) that it was far more important for her to learn:
1) It is important to learn to stay within a budget and live within your means. That $1.70 may not seem like a big deal but allowing her to buy something JUST outside her means through borrowing sets the precedent that it’s better to have what you want, when you want it, even if it means going into debt. That $1.70 could turn into thousands of dollars of shopping debt for her as an adult because her first memory of making a big purchase involved buying something she didn’t have all the money for. I don’t want her growing up thinking “What’s a little debt if I get exactly what I want?” I felt it was more important to teach her to either wait another week until she got her next allowance or change her purchase to fit her budget.
2) I didn’t want to rob her of the feeling of accomplishment and excitement that comes from setting a goal, working hard, and achieving that goal all on her own. I could see the pride and excitement in her eyes. I know how great it felt to do this all on her own because I remember that feeling from when I was kid. I also believe she will take far better care of her camera since she knows how long it took her and how many chores she had to do to earn it.
Trinity chose to look at her other options and with NO diminished enthusiasm chose one in her price range that had everything she was looking for. I was so proud of her.
So yes, Mr. Store Employee, I was a stingy mom today…but I’m okay with looking bad in your eyes because I hope the lessons my daughter learned today are of far greater value than $1.70.
Here she is paying for her camera. The checkout lady was so sweet and excited for her!: