I’ve been reading “Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money” by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze, and just to make things clear up front, I think you should buy the book right away, especially since if you pre-order by April 21 you get a bunch of bonus stuff.
Dave Ramsey teaches that by nature, we tend to be either a spender or saver. Kind of like right-handed and left-handed. Some are by nature more extreme to one side; but when asked, most of us know which one we are and also know which one our kids are.
I have both a saver and a spender in my family. We recently went to Chuck E. Cheese (not sure what the E stands for other than expensive, and energy-depleting). Each girl brought $5 of their own commission money to spend and were going crazy running around with their cup full of tokens.
Now here is where my namesake mouse is a genius. The place tends to appeal to both savers and spenders. You spend money to get these paper tickets and when you save enough tickets, you can buy a plastic toy.
The girls were so excited about the games that they didn’t quite get the tickets. It was only when one sister started to amass a fortune in tickets that the other sister became competitive and started to play those games, too.
Our amazing spender blew through her money and our saver took her time and seemed to suffer each time a gold token left her bucket. Our spender shared tokens with friends and played at a fast pace. When the tokens were gone, she wanted more from her sister and her sister shared a couple, but then said, “No more”. The spender accepted this and watched for the next 20 minutes as saver-sister played. They both had about the same amount of tickets, but it took the spender all of 20 seconds to choose the rocket. Our saver maximized her purchase by buying two pieces of plastic and her favorite candy.
All in all, the girls had a blast and both were happy. Should I have spent the evening pacing my girls? Was I supposed to encourage the spender to slow down, plan better, and maximize her tokens? Was I supposed to encourage the saver to speed up, have fun, live a little?
No, not at all, because this was a chance for my girls to experience choices in spending.
Two concepts in the book “Smart Money, Smart Kids” are shaping how I interact with my girls and money.
First, I want to give them a chance to spend that will expose them to the joys and frustrations of spending in a natural way. Spending can be fun, and blowing through $5 of tokens is a great way to have fun when you have earned it. If I had interfered with how they spent, they would both have been frustrated and neither would have experienced the lessons of spending.
Second, as a parent, I need to teach things that go against the grain of our kids. Just like making the bed, brushing teeth and cleaning up dishes isn’t natural or fun, saving and spending are things that life demands; and depending on personality, we need to encourage. It was fun to teach my saver to spend and it was fun to put my spender in a place that teaches her to slow down.
Are you by nature a spender or a saver? What sort of pressure do you remember feeling as a kid and how have you passed on pressure to your kids?