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Real-life money lessons

We Did It! An Update on Saving for A BIG Lego Set

A few months ago, I had a parenting win. J received a gift that he couldn’t use, and instead of exchanging it for something right away, he returned the item and put the money aside for something he really wanted — The Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon Lego set.

This BIG set cost $99.99, and with 6% tax, he needed a total of $105.99.

He started on August 26, 2017 with $25.17 in a Target gift card.

By saving $8.00 every two weeks (of his $9.00 allowance), he calculated that he would reach his goal on or before January 19, 2018.

The Power of a Goal

Not only did he save part of his allowance, but J was inspired to do chores for extra money and also added in some gifts from relatives. Both accelerated his progress towards the goal.

On November 10 (2.5 months in), he had $90.67.

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Real-life money lessons

Delayed Gratification For The Win

Several weeks ago, my sister sent J a gift in the mail — the Harry Potter Lego Dimensions Team Pack. J is a HUGE Lego fan, so naturally Legos are a great gift for him.

When he received them, however, he told me that he didn’t have the rest of the parts necessary to use them. Apparently you need a starter pack, and oh, it’s available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U.

Yeah, we don’t have any of those.

I immediately stopped investigating how we could play with this toy, and we started brainstorming on what we could do instead.

Now what?

J decided to return the gift and get something else. Having no idea how much Lego Dimension Team Packs are worth, we headed to the store and hoped for the best. (Seriously, though, how much could it be? There were like four pieces in this tiny box.)

Imagine our delight when we found out the return value was $25 (!!!). We walked around the store for awhile, trying to find something to get instead. He picked up a few things, but there was nothing that he wanted that he could afford.

So we took a step back. I asked him what he really wanted.

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Real-life money lessons

How Much Does Your Vacation Really Cost?

Back in March, we went on a road trip and J calculated how much we spent. I thought it was great for him to be able to see exactly how much a vacation really costs.

So when we went to Virginia Beach a few weeks ago, I wanted to have him calculate the cost again, with a few tweaks.

During the trip, we collected all receipts in a folder. We didn’t attempt to do any worksheets or calculating while we were away! A few days after we got home, we sat down and filled out our new and improved trip log (once all of the EZ Pass transactions posted).

This time, we divided all of our receipts into categories. We ended up with seven groups: gas, tolls, groceries, eating out/snacks, household items and lodging.

He labeled each green box with the category. Then he used a running total approach with the register. This involves:

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Real-life money lessons

The Great Allowance Debate

Allowances. To give or not to give. It’s a hot topic.

To put it simply, I think there are three main camps:

  • Don’t give it at all. I already feed, clothe and shelter you.
  • Give it unconditionally. Here is some money and it is yours.
  • Give it conditionally, based on desired actions. Here is money for completing X chores, getting Y grades, etc.

And we…

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Real-life money lessons

Results of the No Present Party Experiment

J’s 9th birthday party was last weekend! If you remember, we asked for no presents, phrasing it like this: “Please, please no gifts for the birthday boy.” And if guests wanted to, they could bring something to donate to our local animal shelter. We said: “J would like to make a donation to [Specific Shelter] for his birthday. If you would like to donate with us, please consider something small from their needs list: [link].

I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. J mentioned that some kids said they were still going to bring him a present (in addition to a donation), even though he told them not to. I even heard one mom make a comment to another – that her husband said, “Are they trying to make us feel bad? Are we supposed to do this now?”

A few parents texted before the party with questions, and I reiterated what the invitation said and how we wanted to focus on giving.

J and I had a few talks before the actual party as well – that the party was the present and getting to spend time with his friends. (Just to try to avoid a potential upset kid when he realized there were no presents for him.)

But all in all, it DID seem to work!