Helping a Spender Learn to Save

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

responses to “Helping a Spender Learn to Save” 3

  1. Rachel, I LOVED this post! Thanks for sharing. Funny, but my older child (son Max who is 9.5) is just like Paxton and money tends to fly through his fingers. Then my daughter (Addie who is 6.5) is the saver like Weston. She is also very giving and whenever her brother wants something and doesn't have enough (or ANY) money, she tries to sneak him her money or begs me to let her buy the item for him. We don't let her because her brother's wants are endless, so it's not like he would even be happy or content after the current item he's itching for. Plus like you, we are also trying to teach our children that you have to work (above and beyond contributing because you are a family) to earn money. Anyway, never thought to do the chart with him…that is a fabulous idea and I am definitely going to try that the next time he mentions an expensive want. Thanks again!

  2. I LOVED this post! Our children ALL take after their Dad and are natural spenders. As the only saver in the house I can get quite frustrated at times! I even find my tendency to save slipping away at times but, so far, am holding on to it!

    Legos are expensive…and in our house, mom and dad are Lego nerds. We just can't seem to help ourselves sometimes – eek! I never had them as a child so I "blame" that for my obsession as an adult. Joe and Amelia are wanting some *very* large sets right now (like, $150+) and I've expressed my desire for them to pool their money together and save for one of them. I never thought of doing a visual chart like this! I think I will have to sit down with them, let them decide which set they would like to save for and create a visual aid! Before I cave to my inner Lego nerd and order one of them myself…

    Thank you for sharing and congratulations to Paxton (and mom and dad!) on working towards such a BIG goal! He picked an awesome set!

  3. I found this post endearing. So sweet.
    Paxton did such a great job, and I'm sure he felt extremely rewarded to have that extra money left over! Good job, mom and dad, for teaching your children what it's like to delay purchasing and to see the BENEFIT of doing so. I'm sure this is a lesson he will never forget. Heck, it's a lesson I wlll never forget. When I want something NOW, I will think about sweet, patient Paxton.

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