This was the scenario at my home a few months ago. A special lunch was coming up at my oldest kid’s school. It was Subway. Cost: $6. She diligently pulls out her spending money only to find out she is 34 cents short.
Now, 34 cents is literally pennies, but that’s not the point. She simply didn’t have enough. As we expected, she was disappointed. She was worried of being the only one to not get special lunch. She was upset.
We could have easily lent her the 34 cents, and she could have paid us back from her future allowance. But the idea of extending credit to my seven year old was really unappealing. It reminded me a lot of the difficult decision we made to let her “cry it out” when she was 11 months.
That Friday was special lunch. I was anxious all day, worrying about her eating her humble sandwich while the other kids unwrapped their subs. After school she bounced off the bus. When I asked her about the lunch she said “Oh, it was fine, I just ate my lunch,” and proceeded to chatter on about the other events of her day. Turned out the whole issue was ‘NBD’ as we say in our house – No Big Deal.
We’ve had other money lessons since then. When she has been short on other occasions and she has time, she can earn a little extra money making me one of her pretty homemade cards. I am always sending cards and am happy to pay her rather than the store.
She also had difficulty keeping track of her mitts this past winter, and was reluctant to have them attached to her coat like her little sister. After losing her first pair, I agreed to buy her another with the agreement that if these were lost, the next set would be up to her. Sure enough, pair #2 disappeared. Off to the store where she decided to dole out $12 which was more than the plain black ones, but less than the ones she really liked. She hasn’t lost these mitts yet.
I’ve noticed that she is now more selective about buying special lunches and snacks. Realizing that the world kept spinning and that her friends didn’t care, she now only purchases these foods if she thinks it’s worth it. Like the time it was pizza and she shelled out $9 so she could get two of them. That’s over 4 weeks’ worth of spending money for her.
But she felt it was the right decision for her and nowadays, I am trusting her judgment.