I do not save as much as I would like, but I don't spend crazily either. My biggest ticket items tend to be things the kids are learning--dance and piano classes, field trips, mission trips at church for the youth group etc. They are not inexpensive, but I feel that they are also an investment in each child. They are experiences which nurture their own unique talents and build self esteem and also many are also situations where they experience working with folks from different walks of life and helping others.
I also try really hard to teach my kids to save money. Everyone has a straight up old fashioned pass book savings account. There is something tangible for them about holding a passbook and seeing the interest get printed. They each get a very modest amount each week to put in the bank. They can earn more by finding chores on their own or graciously pitching in without pitching a fit. LOL
About 2 months ago, KC decided that being "nearly a tween" (his vision of life as an 8 year old!) he needed his own CD/radio player. Sharing the family one in the kitchen just was not doing it for him. He sort of sounded like he thought I was going to trundle right out and buy him one. I said it sounded like a great gift to ask for at Yule. He stared at me like I had 3 heads. He suggested he just take the money out of his bank account.
This is a mentality I wanted to nip in the bud. I had let the kids take money out when we went on vacation to Florida but I don't think savings accounts should be tapped unless truly necessary. Otherwise they are quickly dwindled away to nothing. So I said no, that wasn't the purpose of savings and we had a bit of discussion on that, and control of the funds and how I didn't understand how deeply important this all was to him.
I said I thought it was probably very important and that likely it was so important he was willing to do some extra chores for it. He agreed. For two months he worked in a very self motivated fashion doing chores. He swept the deck, he picked up toys, he dusted and swept. And he was fairly rewarded for the efforts, but not extravagently so. Realistically, we all have to work for what we want and it is better to learn that sooner than later.
He checked on line and found the model he wanted, had me check the reviews and verify that there would be a return policy if he felt it was not working well. And last week he finally had earned enough money to place the order. The excitement just about turned him inside out. Last night it arrived at the store for us to pick up.
When we arrived at the counter it turned out that the same counter also handled layaways. The fellow working saw that we were only doing a pick up. He spoke to the older couple in front of us in line. They had a gigantically laden cart full of items to layaway. He said that he would really like to take us first because it would be quick, whereas layaways took a lot longer. The other customer kind of grumped but agreed.
When the young man went to get KC's CD player, I turned to the other customer and smiled and said how kind he was and that he did not know it but that this was a very special pick up that we were doing. I briefly told him how my son had earned the money for this item and had been waiting for it to arrive.
The atmosphere changed instantly. He asked KC what he did to earn the money and KC promptly told him "lots of chores" and what some of them were. The fellow said how KC would likely take better care of the thing because he earned it himself and how good it was to see a young person learning the value of money.
It is good. It is hugely important as we live in a society that perpetuates a myth of instant gratification. And it was nice to have the concept validated to my son through the conversation in the store line. Kids need to hear life truths from more than one source, even when it may be a chance encounter such as we had.