"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Legos, Money Management, and Delayed Gratification

Evan is a Lego nut. Well, a Lego seed, because...you know...nut allergy.

Anyway, he's obsessed. And I love this obsession. I love Legos because they're the best toy ever. But beyond that, I love that there are "story" sets of Legos, like Lego Ninjago, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. I love that, through playing with Legos, reading Lego encyclopedias and books, and watching Lego animation on YouTube, Evan is gaining an awareness of some of these great stories and the characters in them. Because of Legos, Evan can't wait to read The Hobbit and the Harry Potter series. I love that. And I love that he incorporates his own story-telling into his play with Legos.... 

...until he reaches a point in his story line that calls for a very specific, very hard-to-find Lego mini-figure that he found in one of his many "Lego catalogs." And, because he's savvy enough to know that the internet can make just about anything "happen," he knows that all he needs to do is "type the name into the search bar, Daddy, you'll find it!" And he does. Every time. Ebay is like a purgatory for all the rare and hard-to-find Lego mini-figures. Some, like random mini-figure-holding-a-briefcase will stay there for all eternity. But others, like the Lego Star Wars Elite Clone Storm Trooper, will wait patiently, knowing that someday, some desperate parent will shell out four times the actual retail value (plus shipping!) on the tiny bit of plastic to help her son finish Chapter 12 of Series 2 in Evan's Star Wars Battle Story.

Well, not this mom, damn it. 

I almost did. I almost spent ten dollars, TEN DOLLARS, on this mini-figure because I just love Legos, okay? But I didn't. Because this will not be the only time that Evan reaches a point in his storyline which demands the introduction of a new figure or set. 

So we came up with a plan.

We told Evan that he could buy this Elite Clone Storm Trooper, but that he'd have to use his own money. Our boys earn an allowance (and Molly will, too, once she realizes what we're up to) of $2 each week. Our goal for providing allowance is for precisely this purpose, so that they will have to save up for and buy their own "extras." However, allowing Evan to decide he "needed" this mini-figure and, that very afternoon, spend five weeks worth of his allowance on it seemed rash. Yes, technically, it's his money and he should be allowed to do with it what he pleases...but the other goal of providing an allowance is to teach money-management skills, including delayed gratification. 

So...here's what we did:

We talked about how, when we want or need to make a big purchase (our car, for instance), we don't rush out right away and buy it. First, we research which cars we can afford and which ones of those make the most sense for our family. When we've made a decision, we put the money we will need to spend on it aside (metaphorically) and think about it for a few days. The money is right there, reserved for the car we want to buy, but we want to make sure we are still happy with our decision after the excitement of finding a new "want" has worn off. Then, when we're sure, we make the purchase.

So Evan went upstairs and took "enough" money out of his wallet. (The fact that he was willing to break his beloved $20 bill was indicative to me of his seriousness about this purchase.) We set it aside (on the fridge) and wrote down what he wanted and a date, five days from the day he decided he needed it. 


During the five day "waiting period," he mentioned several more wants and needs. Each time, we said, "Okay. Would you like to take back the money you set aside for the mini-figure and think about buying  something else instead?"

Each time, he thought about it and decided that no, he really wanted the Elite Clone Storm Trooper.

Finally, on October 6, he decided he was still happy with his choice and we made the purchase. We gave him change for his $20 (the official buying price came in lower than expected at $9.79 including shipping...a lucky bonus to our "waiting period" policy) and now we just wait for it to arrive on our doorstep.

Lesson Learned:
We don't always have all the answers, but I think this one might be a good policy for us to use from now on...as our kids, and their wants, get bigger. I mean for the kids. It's not like I would ever need a "waiting period" before making purchases. It's not like I have a Zulily problem or something. [cough. cough.]

1 comment :

  1. What an awesome lesson to teach your son!

    Zulilly...I had to cut myself off. I spent so much time looking at everything I wanted.... and bought... it was crazy. Had to make that call.... lol

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