Since my oldest daughter (5.5 years) was born she has been the recipient of cash and at times lots of it. When she was younger we took the money that was gifted to her and invested it in RESP's with the hope it would help with tuition costs in the future. As she got older and started to ask for things (mostly a trip to Disney World) we explained that "things" cost money and that we need to save and plan when we want to buy something important to us. With that she was given the largest plastic jar we could find, which she decorated with princess stickers and we dubbed it the "Disney Jar". From that point on whenever she received money whether it was as a gift or for helping around the house she had the option to save it, spend it or save some and spend some. 99% of the time she put the money in her Disney jar to save for 'the trip'.
As time when on, I found myself buying a lot of frivolous items on almost every trip to any store (this girl can shop at a gas station!) and I thought it was time for her to realize that things don't come for free and going shopping for apples doesn't mean we are buying a toy. It started with the explanation "we don't have money for that" but she grew wise to that argument and suggested we ask her dad for money, to quote "he has lots". Time for a new tactic and one I felt was a better lesson learned. When we went out shopping I would tell her in advance what we were shopping for and let her know that if there was something she hoped to buy then it was up to her if she wanted to spend her money on it. She also starting asking if she could do "chores" to earn money, which I am happy to oblige. We have recently started to introduce this concept to our soon to be 3 year old daughter as well.
At first she spent her bills buying things she wanted, then we were down to coin. Today, she told me she wanted to go to the Disney store while we were at the mall and buy
something from Tangled (in anticipation of the show airing that night). We were running a last minute errand to get my husband a new suit and it was 3 pm on Saturday afternoon. I told her she would have to use her own money to buy something and she went up and emptied lots of coins into her purse. I explained that we should count the money so she knew how much she had to spend and then roll it so it could be used at the store. I helped her roll $10 in quarters, $4 in nickels and then the additional $7 in loonies were added to her purse. We also rolled some money for her sister to purchase something and off we went.
Both girls spent lots of time looking around the store and learning what they could (and couldn't) afford. In the end, they settled for a Tangled art set for the oldest and a bunny from Sofia the First for the younger one. My five year old went to the counter with pride to pay for her purchase and it came to $21.90 just under the allotted $22. She gave the cashier all her money and that's when things went downhill. The cashier asked another cashier if she needed to count the coin inside the rolls (she did) and then the cashier was told to re-roll it....the ensuing disaster of counting I won't even go into but in the end the manager came over and assisted scooped up the unrolled coin into a bag watched the cashier finish the sale. I said "wow, you're not going to like our next purchase" as we had the younger ones purchase and rolled coin in hand. The manager told me she couldn't take our rolled coin, she had just done a coin order and didn't need that change. I was pissed! Not only was it ridiculous that they wouldn't accept cash (all be it coin & rolled) but it negated the very message I was trying to teach. If I had wanted the girls to bring "my money" to the store I would have changed their coin for bills at home. The point was to take their hard saved money and buy something that they valued and could be proud to have bought themselves. In the end I paid for it with my cash to avoid a meltdown by my 3 year old had we left empty-handed. I felt awful for the cashier as I am sure I was shooting flames out my eyes and I did apologize and tell her I understood it was not her fault, she was only doing what her manager said. What I do know is that it will be a long time before we return to the Disney Store as they must not need our money.
In the end, I hope that my girls understand the value of saving, making good decisions and spending wisely. Next up my lesson on customer service....