Friday, April 07, 2006

Teaching my eldest son to save - step three

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Yesterday, I had a chance to focus on the idea of saving with my son. We took a family trip to the mall where he promptly asked to have money to put in gumball machines.

Focus on deferred gratification
We walked to the candy dispenser and I asked him, "What is more important and fun: eating a candy right now or riding the mechanical train at the market." He thought about it for a moment and said the train. I asked him again and he confirmed the train. Big success.

Next step: focus on tomorrow
I then asked him if I gave him a quarter tomorrow would he save it so he could go on the train. He said yes. I then told him that grandma would give him a quarter the next day. The day after, we would spend both quarters at the market riding the train. He was very excited about the prospect.

Enabling saving in small children
I realized we need a place for him to hide his money - or at least keep it in a consistent place or we would never find it. We agreed that the side table drawer (his place for secrets - usually secret snacks), would be where he will put the money. Today we'll see if it works. When I asked him where will you put the money, he said, "My pocket." Although a safe place, I predict he'll take the money out to play with and then ultimately lose -- toddlers.

Building a team
I then made my in-laws promise not to buy him rides at the market unless they were with his saved money. Also not to give him money except as part of the savings process. We'll buy little things for him that he wants every so often, but I think if we buy things that he requests on demand, he'll never learn discipline or saving -- it will confuse things, too much.

Of course, make sure grandma doesn't pull out a purse on the way to the market and say, "Look, I've got plenty of change." That will undermine the entire savings process.

  1. Today I give my eldest child a quarter
  2. We hide it in the secret place
  3. I discourage him from removing it
  4. Remind him that we will ride the mechanical train in 2 days -that's what he's saving for


  1. Do I ask him to show me the saved money throughout the day?
  2. If he loses the money, should I replace it or make him wait another day?
  3. If he wants a second ride, should I pay for it or make him wait three more days?

Will I be cruel if I am too strict with him?

Any thoughts and comments are certainly welcome.

Have a wonderful Friday,


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