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Helping a Spender Learn to Save

As our children grow, it has been such a joy watching their personalities develop. It’s amazing how children who have the same parents, live in the same home and spend almost every day together can be so different. Our boys are complete opposites, especially when it comes to money.

Paxton (6 years old) is a natural spender. If he earns or receives a money, he wants to spend it. Over the past year, he’s purchased several small Lego sets, random items at thrift stores and even vending machine stickers. Saving his money for a larger purchase is not something he’s naturally drawn to.

Our Weston (4 years old) is a natural saver. If he earns or receives money, he wants to save it. He’s such a simple boy, he has very few wants and rarely purchases anything. Most of the items he has purchased he has saved for or he has found an animal to go with his farm. Lately when he gets money, he tells us to just put it in savings (referring to his savings account) because he’s saving up to buy a farm and a tractor. He’s thinking about the future and not worried about material things in the present!

We want to raise our children to be wise when it comes to finances so they hopefully will be financially free their entire lives. And, we also know that just because a person has a natural tendency, such as the tendency to spend, it doesn’t mean that they cannot learn to change their ways.

Around Christmas, Paxton found a Star Wars Lego set that he really liked but it was way out of his spending money price range at $59.99. He talked about it for several weeks and pointed it out when we would look at toys.

We thought it would be a great item to set a savings goal for and encouraged him to save his spending money to purchase the Lego set.
Lego Savings Goal

We created a savings goal chart as a visual that we hung up in his room so he could glance at it and see how far he was progressing towards reaching his goal.

We set a goal of saving $70 to cover the Lego set and taxes. Each row on his chart represented $2 but we also allowed him to fill in half a row when he put $1 into his Lego Savings jar.

He had some Christmas money that he decided to go ahead and put towards the goal so he started out with $22 which was a great jump start towards such a lofty goal for a 6-year-old.

At the beginning, he started out slow, putting just a little bit of the money he’d earn or receive into his savings. He preferred putting more of his money into his wallet for spending. Every time he decided he wanted to spend money, we would remind him that he could use that amount of money, even if it was only $1, towards his Lego savings and get closer to his goal. Then, we’d let him make up his mind if he wanted to spend his money or not.

He chose to purchase several small things over the first few months and then he started to get more serious. He received some money from grandparents and great grandparents for Valentines Day and put all of that into his Lego savings. Then he earned some money when he, his daddy and brother helped our neighbor with some farm work and put all of that money (minus his giving) into his savings. After earning that money, he started asking about ways he could make money and we gave him some odd jobs to do to earn a little money.

As his savings grew, his spending decreased and he starting putting more and more of his money towards his savings. With his birthday money, he was able to reach his goal of $70 and he was so excited to finally be able to purchase his Lego set.

Paxton's Legos

We completed the chart and then starting looking for the best deal we could find. We knew the Lego set was $59.99 at WalMart and ToysRUs but we wanted to shop around. We first checked out Craigslist, hoping to find a used set (we always try to buy things used instead of new), then we looked on eBay. With no luck there, we saw that Amazon had the best price online at $54 (it was around $57.50 after tax).

I told him that we could go to WalMart that day and purchase the Lego set for $59.99 plus tax or we could order it on Amazon. By ordering it on Amazon, he’d have to wait 2 days but would save around $6. He decided to order online, save the money and patiently wait. We were a little surprised and very proud that he chose to delay gratification!

We placed the order together and he handed over all that cash. Then we counted up what remained and he had $12.50 that he can apply towards his next savings goal (which we’re not quite sure of at this point).

Opening Legos

Paxton was so excited while waiting for his package to arrive. The day that it arrived, the mail ran very early and we were in the middle of our lessons. That was motivation, he’s never done his math faster! He was so excited to open up his Legos and start building.

This was the biggest set that he has received or purchased and it took him a while to get it all together. I sat with him and helped him build for awhile (and he loves when I play Legos with him since his love language is quality time!)

We hope reaching this financial goal will be remembered in the years to come and that he has learned a little bit about the value of saving.

Related Posts:

Teaching Kids About Money

Teaching Preschoolers About Money

For the past 4 years now, I have recorded a day in my life on a January day and shared about our everyday. This year, I recorded our day but never sat down and posted about the day. I finally have taken the time to write about that day.

Here’s a glimpse into my life as a stay at home, homeschooling mama of 3 on Thursday, January 28, 2016:

Quiet Time7:30 – I’m awake and having a few minutes of quiet to myself. It doesn’t last too long because Cecilia wakes around 7:45 (she almost always gets up 15 minutes after me, whether I get up at 6:30 or 8:00!) I read in my Bible, read a few pages in The MessageHow to Listen to God and For the Children’s Sake.

For the Children's Sake

8:30 – Finishing up a chapter in For the Children’s Sake while Cecilia plays quietly in her room and the boys are still sleeping.

Breakfast

9:30 – By now, everybody is up and moving. I’ve prepped breakfast and have served everyone a big bowl of blueberry oatmeal. We finish up oatmeal, tidy up the kitchen and get dressed for the day.

Jackets

10:30 – We’re getting our jackets on to head to town to run a few errands. Thursdays are John David’s late work nights (he typically arrives home around 8:30-9:00) so some Thursday’s we break out of our normal school after breakfast routine and do a fun morning activity.

Salvation Army

11:30 – We drop off a few items at Salvation Army and browse the store for a few minutes. No treasures were found on this trip. Then we head to the library, one of our favorite places!Heading Home

12:30 – Heading home from town, prepping and eating lunch.

Lunch and Reading

1:30 – We’re all finished with lunch so we’re reading a few stories before rest time from Illustrated Stories from Aesop that we checked out from the library!

Cecilia's Nap

2:30 – It took awhile but Cecilia is finally asleep, the boys are resting and I enjoy a few moments of quiet and prep for our learning time.

School

3:30 – We’re in the middle of our lessons for the day. Since my boys are so young, I often sit on the couch and read books to them while they quietly play and then we’ll move into the kitchen for handwriting and math. (This is a page out of Illustrated Elementary Science Dictionary about seeds.)

Tidying the Kitchen

4:30 – Tidying in the kitchen. So much of my days are spent right here cleaning, prepping and cooking food. I’m so thankful that we have an abundance of food and that I am able to nourish my children from my time spent here.

Playing Football

5:30 – Outside for a little while playing football with Paxton. Quality time is one of his love languages and he loves football so kicking and throwing the football around with him makes him feel so loved. We also spent a few minutes weeding some of our garden beds in preparation for spring!

Supper

6:30 – I’m heating up dinner. Tonight we’re having leftover chicken soup – one of my very favorite winter foods.

Lego Game

7:30 – We’re in the boys room, playing the Lego game. It’s super simple and so much fun. We grab our Lego bin and a dice and then roll the dice to see how many pieces we can choose to add to our collaborative creation. It’s so much fun to create together.

8:30 – (No picture because I was exhausted and forgot!) Cecilia is in bed asleep, John David has just arrived home and I’m getting the boys to bed.

9:30 – All of my little ones are sleeping, my husband is home and I’m ending my day with a book. The perfect ending to a winter day.

I’m so thankful for these sweet children of mine and that I am able to stay home and educate them. There really is nothing glamorous about my life but I really am living my dream as a wife and mama!

A Day in My Life Posts from previous years:

January 2015

January 2014

January 2013

January 2012

*This post contains affiliate links to books!

Teaching Kids About Money

One of our desires for our children is for them to become financially wise. We hope by being honest about our finances and teaching them about how we manage our money that they will have a desire to stay out of debt and use their money wisely.

At 4 and 5, our boys know that we follow a budget and that our budget helps direct our spending.

We started talking about money and giving them small amounts of money at very young ages. We also try to point out how we save money by buying things used over buying them new.

Both boys were given some money for Christmas this year. We put some of it in savings but they both ended up with about $12 in their wallets. Money in their wallets is their spending money that they can spend, pretty much however they choose.

Our 5 year old, Paxton, is a spender and our 4 year old, Weston, is a saver. When Paxton has money, he starts thinking of ways he can use it. Weston prefers socking his money away in his piggy bank and lately has been telling us that he’s saving his money so he can buy a tractor when he grows up. (The saver in me LOVES this!)

On New Years Eve, while we were out eating Chinese food, our 5 year old discovered the wall of vending machines full of candy, toys and stickers. He saw that one of these machines contained NFL stickers (he loves football) and he had to have one. We explained that we thought spending $.50 for one sticker when you didn’t even know which team you were going to get seemed like a waste of money to us. Then we told him that it was his money and he could buy a sticker if he wanted to.

He chose to buy the sticker and was satisfied with the team he got.

Then, he tried to talk his brother into buying a sticker too! Weston stood firm in his resolve not to spend anything.

With money still left in his wallet, Paxton was itching to spend more so he started asking to go shopping. He finally asked, ‘can we go thrifting for jerseys?’ (I love that he appreciates thrifting!)

One afternoon this week, we went to Salvation Army and started looking for jerseys in the kids section. We found a red Georgia Nike jersey in size 6 that fit him and he liked it pretty well. We browsed around the store and came back to the kids section to double check and then Paxton spotted a black Georgia Nike jersey in size 7. He got really excited about this black jersey and we were starting to hang the red one back up when Weston asked if he could buy the red one.

We stood in line and they both purchased their jerseys, pulling their $3.20 out of their wallets, excitedly handing the money over and then proudly walking out with their jerseys that they purchased with their own money.

I was tickled that we had such good thrifting luck and they both found something they wanted.

Once we got home, I showed them that similar jerseys were selling for $40+ each online and that they could not have purchased those jerseys brand new with the amount of spending money they have.

We hope that talking with them through their spending and making wise purchases as children helps them become financially independent adults.

Georgia Jerseys

Paxton was beyond thrilled that his jersey has a Capital One Bowl game patch sewn on it!

And, it should be noted that John David and I are Tennessee fans. Paxton likes Tennessee and Georgia college football, he says ‘I was born in Tennessee and live in Georgia so I can like both.’ And, we’re not sure where Weston’s allegiance lies just yet. (Now, we’ve got to thrift a couple UT jerseys to even things up!)

Bringing Meals

Bringing meals to families after the birth of a baby, during times of sickness or loss is such a simple way to really bless a family and make them feel loved and cared for.

After the birth of our third baby, we were blessed with many meals from friends in our small group and other friends from church. Every meal that was delivered made me feel loved and cared for. And, I’m so thankful for the sweet friends who took time out of their busy days of caring for their own little ones to prepare a meal for our family.

Since I know what a blessing meals are to families, I prefer to celebrate babies by bringing a meal or two instead of giving them more stuff for baby (babies don’t need much)!

In the past, I’ve made excuses for not bringing meals to families, telling myself I was too busy taking care of my kids, preparing our own meals and that I didn’t know what to bring.

While, it does take some time out of my day, I’ve found that bringing meals can be pretty simple and involve a minimal amount of time, thanks to planning and keeping meals simple.

I have two meals that I typically bring to families:

    1. Roasted Chicken,  Baked Carrots, Potatoes and Onions, Green Beans, Rolls and Dessert
    2. Chicken Parmesan Casserole with Green Beans, Rolls and Dessert

Dessert is usually cookies or brownies.

Sometimes, I’ll bring fresh fruit (like bananas or cut up melon) or muffins so the family can have something extra to snack on and pack kid friendly foods (cheese sticks, carrot sticks) for kiddos.

Meal to Bring

These two meals are simple to prepare and are family favorites. I typically keep the ingredients to make both of these meals on hand. This makes bringing a family a meal on short notice possible without a trip to the grocery store.

I’ve found that knowing what I’m bringing allows me to volunteer to bring meals without any stress over what I’ll prepare. And, preparing the same two meals makes getting the meal packed up and ready to deliver simple since I know exactly what containers I need.

Packed Up Meal

Once everything is cooked, I package it up in disposable containers and bags. Disposable pans work best for my main dish, green beans can be transported in disposable pans or plastic containers (like Gladware) and rolls/brownies/cookies are easy to package in a plastic bag. (I hate the waste element of this but it’s easier for the family to not have to worry about returning dishes.) 

I have learned the hard way that transporting food in disposable containers can result in some leaks. I’ve had several green bean juice leaks – once all over the back of the van.

To avoid leaks in my vehicle, I line my clothes basket with a clean towel and load everything into the basket. This not only keeps any leaks contained, it’s also an easy way to deliver the meal. I am able to bring everything into the home in just one trip.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a good cook or truly don’t have the time to prepare meals for families, you can still bless families with food.

  • Pick up a Rotisserie Chicken at your local grocery store, add a salad mix, fresh bread and fruit.
  • Pick up all the fixings for homemade sub sandwiches and add chips and fruit.
  • Bring takeout from any restaurant. (Calling ahead to see what the families favorite foods are would be a nice gesture.)
  • Bring a basket of snacks. (John David’s grandparents brought a bunch snacks and fresh fruit after Cecilia’s birth – it was much appreciated and the boys were thrilled with all the yummy snack foods!)
  • Invite the family over to join your family for a meal – you won’t have to worry about transporting food at a certain time and they won’t have to worry about any clean up.
  • If you live in a different town, you can still bless friends with meals via gift cards to restaurants in their area.

For more meal ideas, here are some of the meals we were given (and everything was delicious):

      • Baked Spaghetti, Salad and Bread
      • Quiche, Baked Oatmeal, Fruit (breakfast for dinner – yum!)
      • Pot Roast, Green Beans and Rolls
      • Chicken and Rice Soup, Salad, Bread
      • Chicken Enchiladas, Beans and Fruit
      • Stromboli, Salad, Fruit
      • Pizza
      • Chicken Casserole, Salad and Bread
      • Hamburgers, Chips and Pineapple Casserole
      • Potato and Corn Chowder and Corn Muffins
      • Smoked Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Our boys really loved the nights that pizza and hamburgers were brought. In fact, they’ve asked me several times over the past year when we were going to have another baby because they liked having people bring us food!  (Our entire family was truly blessed by the gift of meals!)

Do you have specific meals you bring? I’d love to know your easy to transport meal ideas!