The idea of saving as a child seems unfair. When I received a cash gift from my Grandparents, all I wanted to do with it was go to the nearest toy store and buy something fun. The only value that money played into my young life was that I knew it was a means to get things. As I grew older, I watched my parents pay bills, donate to charity, and make tough decisions on how to spend their money on things like a station wagon for our growing family. My parents were (and still are) savers, and shared with me and my siblings that the financial decisions they made to allow for savings provided us with the fun things like trips in that station wagon.
When my first child was born, my husband and I were given the gift of a savings bond. I had no idea what to do with a savings bond, so into the safe deposit box it went. That particular gift did get us thinking about how to get our newborn started off on the right foot to financial success—even at her young age. We established a savings account for her, and deposited the cash gifts we received for her birthdays and holidays. As she has gotten older, we have shared with her the importance of saving and of making good financial decisions.
On a day off from school, my daughter and I had a “mommy/daughter” day. She had saved up twenty dollars to spend at the mall that day. I told her that I would spring for lunch, but nothing else. It was up to her on what she chose to spend her money on that day. She went to her favorite store, and started to pick out some items. When she reached the cash register, she quickly realized that her twenty dollars wouldn’t cover her entire purchase. She looked to me for help, and I reminded her that her purchases had to be made with her money that day. It was a wonderful learning moment for her to recognize the value of money and of the impact her buying decisions made on her budget. With a strong face, she put several items back and politely said “no thank you” to the sales person who was desperately trying to add on more items with a pleading look to me (as the mom with the checkbook).
As a parent, my heart soared that day to see her make some tough choices with her money. We make it a habit to work together to decide on how much to save and how much to spend. We have watched her savings account grow over the years, and look forward to embarking on her next financial step in a few years: a checking account.