My son discovered Xbox 360 this summer playing with some older kids. We were in Best Buy one day and they had the same game set up to play. We allowed him to play while we asked a sales associate about the different gaming systems. My husband asked about the features, I asked for the key to understanding the game ratings. We left Best Buy saying, “You need to save up your money” to our son, while I know good and well my husband WILL buy it for Christmas.
We had started giving our son a two dollar a week allowance for doing various chores around the house. We tried to teach him the value of saving his money. Eight dollars in one month or sixteen dollars in two months was much better than looking for something to spend two dollars on every week.
In the beginning he would remind me it was Saturday so he could collect his two dollars. One day we were getting ready to go into a store when he remembered that he hadn’t been paid yet. I didn’t have any ones, but I had a five dollar bill. He had three dollars in his wallet. I said, “Give me your three dollars” and I handed him the five dollar bill. He said, “That’s not fair that I gave you three and you only gave me one”. I said, “Son, what number do you see on that money?” He said, “Five”. I said, “Well that means you have FIVE dollars now, instead of three.” He still didn’t get it. I was impatient with the discussion, at the time thinking, shouldn’t he understand that 2 + 3 = 5? I took the five back and gave him his three until I could get change. When he had his five one dollar bills, I asked him to count them. He said, “I have five dollars”. I showed him another five dollar bill and said, “Well that is what THIS is”. He said, “But I like it like this”, waving his money. I mumbled, “whatever” under my breath.
He hard a time wanting or trying to save his money. We would be in Walgreen’s and I would have to say, “Yes, it is your money but I’m not letting you waste four dollars on silly putty”.
While he still did his chores, he didn’t follow up on his getting his allowance once when he found out how much an Xbox would cost. He grew impatient saving his money. That was UNTIL he found out he could buy a game on MY iPad for .99 cents and as he understood it, .99 cents = $1.00. I hope he learns about tax before I have to explain it.
So we got to a point that I had to put restrictions on the iPad and turn off the app store to keep him from window shopping. He would come to me with two dollars and say, “Can I get this game mom, it has good reviews” (with his six year old self). He may not be able to read the reviews yet but he knows a 5 star rating when he sees one.
Even though I believe the Xbox will be one of those gifts “for my son” but really for my husband I don’t want him to have one until he (my son) understands the value of a dollar. Additionally, that is not a gift Santa is going to get credit for. Maybe we could say, “We told Santa we were getting you an Xbox so he didn’t need to stop by here.”
Here’s the thing...I wish iTunes made a $.99 cent gift card. If I gave my son several of those he would understand their value and I think he would spend wisely. A $25 gift card would not do. He still thinks the six one dollar bills he has in his wallet right now are worth more than the two twenty dollar bills his grandparents gave him this summer.