A memorable money moment for a six-year-old

Here’s a little story for all you parents out there. Parents often tell me about their kid’s experiences with money. In this true story I have changed the name of the boy to Sam.

Sam is six years old and about to go on a spending experience that sends him home with out spending a dime, but with a lesson that’s worth more than money can buy.

It’s Saturday morning and Sam, says to his mother, “I’ve got $7. I want to go shopping to buy something.”

Mom asks him, “Do you know what you want to buy?”

“No, but I really want to go shopping.”

“Well,” says mom, “you do know that just because you have money doesn’t mean you have to spend it today.”

“Yeah, but I want to,” says Sam, counting out his money.

Dad says, “I have to go to Target this afternoon. Want to come along and do your shopping?”

“Sure,” says Sam.

At the store, Sam looks at toys. He looks at games. He looks at books. He even looks at clothes. Then he stands next to his dad and puts his hands in his pocket.

“I don’t have enough money to buy anything I want,” he says dejectedly.

Dad didn’t say a word, thinking Sam might ask for more money. He didn’t. Or Sam might ask Dad to buy him something instead. He didn’t.

Sam just stood there, hands in pockets, not knowing what to say or do.

Dad realized this was an important moment and says, “Let’s go out to the car.”

Inside the car he put his arms around Sam, who looked like he was ready to cry.

Sam took out his $7 and stared at the money. Earlier he had been so excited, stuffing his money in his pocket. But now he was totally deflated.

“I just don’t have enough money to buy what I want,” he said.

Dad looked at Sam and said, “You have just taught yourself an important lesson. And you’re only 6-years-old. It took me a lot longer to realize….”

Here’s the lesson for parents: Sam’s own understanding of his money made him realize that before going shopping he needed to know what he wanted and if he had enough money. Nothing his mom or dad could say would have made a bigger impression on Sam than standing in the store knowing he didn’t have enough money.

That night his mom and dad talked about the “ah-ha” moment that their son had in the store. They both recognized that Sam was really taking ownership of his money, as shown by his comment, “I don’t have enough money to buy what I want.” Sam had not begged for more money or asked for someone to buy something for him. He knew how much money he had control of and knew it was his situation to resolve.

Sam’s parents realized it was now time to start giving him a weekly allowance, a regular amount of money he could rely on. Now that Sam would know he’d have money coming in each week he could start planning his future spending. Sam would be managing his own money!

Next time Sam would know when he had enough money to go shopping. He would have done some thinking and planning and would come home with something he wanted.

Sam’s memorable money moment taught him a lesson that will be with him forever.

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