The General Store

Since we are chatting about finances, and I mentioned that I find it very educational and empowering to have some money that is my own to spend, I am planning to do the same for the children. I had noticed that they lose pencils, break crayons, etc, with little thought to any consequences. If they were in school outside of the home, there might be more natural consequences, but borrowing a pencil from Mom always seems like an easy option for them.

To that end, I have decided to make a “school store.” The first purchase was made by Merry, who replaced her crayolas at a cost of $3 (the same price I paid at Staples). When I saw the new crayolas scattered all over the floor, I gently reminded her that she had purchased them and they were quickly and happily cleaned up. Since then, the crayons have stayed neatly in the box. It was interesting, because Merry was happy to pay for new crayons whereas PT searched high and low for his pencil rather than part with a quarter.

Merry is also really bothered by messy water colors. I can well imagine her choosing to purchase her own, and keep them seperate from the rest, rather than continuing to share with three year old artists. PT is ready for a new baseball glove, and we are going to ask him to pay for it himself, there is no occasion for a gift at the moment.

For now, this money is coming out of piggy banks stocked by birthday dollars, but next year I plan to lay in a bunch of supplies and give each child a small cash budget for the school year. Thinking about winter realities, perhaps extra mittens will also be available in the school store as well as, periodically, special treats, books, etc. I have heard that some families operate a Christmas store, if the school store is going well then I may also add that.

As with my own spending budget, one of the small goals of this financial freedom and responsibility is to make gifts more appreciated. When we have the sense that all of our needs are being met by some magical force (dad’s credit card), it is easy to become spoiled. However, when we start to have a better understanding of how the world really works then that reward pencil from the dentist becomes much more attractive.

Any thoughts on what worked well from your own childhood? For those who commented on being good at budgeting, what practical tips do you have for us to encourage this in our children? Thoughts on allowance generally? Responsibility about their things, activities, etc? I know I took my husband’s law school classes much more seriously because I was paying for them!

Christmas to-do list
Marriage Under the Microscope
No More Charting?
Cleaning Out Before Christmas