“The List” allows your child to purchase big-ticket items without giving them more money that might be spent on impulse buys. It also rewards your kiddo for saving money. (If you are interested in the optional Kids Activity, see previous episode #48B.)
INTRO: From the second story of our beautiful mansion, it's Short and Sweet Parenting Tips.
Ha…Mansion! That one always gets me. Anyway, welcome to Short and Sweet Parenting Tips. We are in the middle of a series about allowances. Today’s episode is a shoot-off from last week about spending. Even though we didn’t have time to cover “The List” in the previous section, I’m super excited to share this system – so this whole episode is dedicated to explaining it. “The List” alleviates many problems connected to an allowance. Mostly, it allows your child to afford big-ticket items without giving them more money that might be spent on impulse buys. “The List” encourages saving, and can minimize frustration for your kiddo who is trying to save up soooo many allowances to afford what they’re trying to buy – you can only take delayed gratification so far when you’re 10, am I right?
Before we get into the nitty gritty about “The List”, I want to remind you that there are other ways for kids to supplement their allowances. We covered several in Part 1, like chores, grade money, and gift money.
In addition to those options though, we’ve concocted a no-nonsense go-to system that enables your kids to afford larger items.
So, “The List” was a real game-changer for our family. I’ll explain all, but first, some background:
I encourage you to have a listen to Part 1 where I talk about chores, grade money, and gift money as avenues kids can use to supplement their allowance. In addition to those options though, we’ve concocted a no-nonsense go-to system that enables your kids to afford larger items. It’s something we affectionately call “The List”. This was a real game-changer for our family. I’ll explain all, but first, some background:
We noticed that our kiddos started wanting to buy things that were pricey enough, that they would have to save for several weeks to buy one of the items they wanted. That is a little too much delayed gratification for a second grader, if ya know what I mean? When this first happened, my husband and I discussed whether or not we should go ahead and raise their allowance. We hesitated because our girls were just as likely to blow their allowance at the checkout line or on a vending-machine rubber ball, as to buy a well-thought out item. So we created “The List”. If our kiddo wanted to purchase something, but they didn’t have all of the money, they could put it on “the list”. It would sit on the list until the next shopping trip, and then we would match their money – essentially paying for half of it. So the bottom line is that we allow each kid to put items they can’t afford onto a list for future purchase. If something is on “The List”, we parents will pay for half of the item. “The list” ended up being a verbal agreement in our family, and wasn’t actually a tangible list. If you have a legalist in your family though, maybe a written list would be the way to go.
“The List” comes with certain rules. Mainly, the kid cannot buy the item during that trip to the store (or if it’s online, they can’t buy it that day) even if they have their half of the money. So, the impulse-buying factor was taken out of the equation. After they verbally put the item on “the list”, they would either save their half of the money, or, if they already had their half of the money, we would come back another day to buy the item. As I think back on it, when our kids verbally put something on “the list”, about a third of the time they completely forgot about whatever item they had so desperately wanted in the moment. Part of the beauty of the list, it to confirm that the kid is really interested in having the item, versus the emotions of an impulse buy. When they did remember the item and save up for it though, us parents weren’t obligated to run out immediately and make a special trip just to go buy their item. It was usually at our convenience, when we were already out doing errands, or the next time we visited that particular store.
Another aspect of “the list” is looking up the price of items on line. We’d go through this with the girls and discuss the pros and cons, showing them that buying through a website is often less expensive. Sometimes they actually might receive the item faster ordering on line. Reason one is that, if it’s cheaper on line, it will take less time to save up their half of the money. The second is that it might take another week-plus for us to drive back to the original store, and two-day shipping would be quicker. It also still rewards delayed gratification because the child didn’t get the item right away. I covered delayed gratification in depth during episodes 28-29, by the way.
One more note, we only double allowance money. Not gift money, like birthday cash... Not grade money... Not chore money. As I mentioned in the previous episode, we do pay pretty generously for chores, simply because we don’t double the money. I didn’t mention “the list” in part 1 though. That’s a special bonus just for this episode.
One other scenario that may come up: travel and family trips. We fine-tuned “the list” when we were living in Germany and going to a new, fantastic country every month. If the girls saved money toward the trip, we would flat-out double it. They didn’t have to wait or put anything on “the list”. We still helped them think through their purchases, and when the moola was gone, it was gone.
I hope the concept of “The List” gave you some ideas on how you might incorporate a similar system in your house. For a comprehensive discussion on spending though, I’m gonna point you to Part 2 from last week.
The next few episodes of this series will be divided by age to really target the interests and needs of kids in different seasons of their life. If you happen to have a pre-k kiddo, next week’s episode will be completely dedicated to that age, with a pre-allowance system that’s linked to behavior.
This series will wrap up Season 1. The focus of Season 2 will be to dive deep into issues that are really challenging including mental health awareness, gender identity, race and cultural differences, and overindulgence, just to name a few. The purpose of Season 2 is to coach parents on how to navigate these tough topics facing our kiddos. If you would like a particular subject covered, please post it or PM me through the Short and Sweet Tips Facebook Page. You can even message me through shortandsweettips.com.
Thanks for tuning in. This was your Short and Sweet Parenting Tips for the week…Fresh Ideas in Bite-sized portions.