Did I Do the Right Thing?

Like many girls her age (four), my daughter is pretty obsessed with Disney princesses. Even if she hasn’t seen a particular character’s movie, she loves her and wants all of the related merchandise. Each time we go to Target, she begs to walk through “the princess aisle”.  While I think she knows I’m not going to buy her anything, she still asks begs for pretty much everything there.  Last summer I started responding, “Let’s put it on your birthday/Christmas list”, which worked surprisingly well. Instead of asking me to buy things for her, she would say, “Can we put this on my birthday/Christmas list?” I’ve noticed lately, though, that she’s back to just asking me for things – or better yet, longingly saying, “I wish I had one of these…” Clearly I have to resurrect the, “Let’s put it on your list”, line!

As soon as I told her we were going to Target a few days ago, she asked if I would buy her a princess doll. Never mind that she already has countless princess dolls, including the seven she received last Christmas alone! I was not going to buy her one, but I said that if she wanted to spend some of her piggy bank money, she could buy one for herself. Naturally, she was excited and agreed.

Before we left home, we counted the money in her piggy bank, which totaled $19.56. (Significant monetary gifts are deposited into her 529 account, and gifts of more than $1 or so are deposited into her online savings account. Her piggy bank contains mostly change that she’s been given.) We then headed to “the princess aisle”, where she proceeded to point at nearly every item and ask if she had enough money for it. The fact that she doesn’t really understand numbers in relation to each other yet, works to my advantage, and allowed me to maintain control over the situation. In the end she chose a Belle ballet doll, which happened to be on sale for $6.49. It was a completely unnecessary purchase, but one that I could live with.

Here’s my question: Did I do the right thing? My husband doesn’t think I should’ve let her spend her money on such a frivolous purchase, and I understand where he’s coming from. However, I want to teach her good money habits early, and hope that spending her own money will make her think twice about what she wants and how badly she wants it.

What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “Did I Do the Right Thing?

  1. Michelle says:

    YES. You started teaching her about money. She was learning how to budget while she was finding something within her price range. We started doing the same thing with our kids. Now at the age of 8 and 9 they know how to look up the cost of a toy so they can budget their money. My two also know mom won’t buy them anything at the store. Hope this helps.

  2. Patricia says:

    When my daughters were this age I did the same as you did and let them make the decision to spend their own money on items that they wanted – up to a point. Your daughter has learned that the money she saved bought her a toy she loves and she did not spend all she had. If she even spent it all and had nothing left she would learned that having money for something later would have to put off – if someone did not come along and rescue her. I let my daughters experience this and they found out that it is not wise and rather painful to make a foolish move and spend everything without careful thought My two daughters are grown and are excellent at budgeting and controlling their money. ( I invested money in mutual funds, instead of of a 529 to spend for college, cars, or a down payment for a house). I like that the two of you are putting money into a savings account as well as a piggy bank, it is teaching her to save. The two of you are doing an excellent job with your daughter’s training. Your husband is being a caring father and worrying about his daughter’s future and wants your daughter to be taught that sometimes you can only afford to buy needed things not frivolous things. At four years old, her needs are and should be taken care of and the two of you sound like great parents.

  3. Patricia says:

    I am far from an expert on credit cards because I pay the full amount monthly, but I came across information on Citi Simplicity Card that offers 0% APR and balance transfers for 18 months. If the two of you could throw everything to this debt for a year and a half this might be the way to go. For every $10,000 dollars one carries on a credit card at 15% one is charged $100.00 in interest monthly. Hope this helps.

  4. Elizabeth McCarthy says:

    I started giving my teen daughter $25/bi-monthly to spend on clothes. Before she receives the money, the homework needs to be up-to-date and a verified grade in the system and the bedroom clean.

    Might now sound like much money but she scores a piece of clothing per ‘payday’ at places like H&M and Forever 21. And if she wants something bigger, she needs to save up for it.

    This process is doing quite well for both of us. She gets to buy what she wants and needs. I keep my budget in tack and am blessed with a clean bedroom (which lasts all but 30 minutes. lol).

    Trial and error is the only way we will know if it works. And it sounds as if you are doing quite well.

  5. Sometimes what I do with my daughter is say, “Ok, you can buy this with your own money – in a month” (or a week or two weeks, whatever you think is appropriate). That way she can still use her money, but not impulsively. She gets control, and you get to teach a little lesson too. Often the thing she wanted was completely forgotten. Also, she will never have “enough” princess dolls. That’s the nature of consumerism. It’s a beast that needs to be fed!

    You are not depriving her, you are teaching her a valuable lesson. Also, having more stuff than is enough doesn’t make anyone actually happy. But it does give the brain a nice little ding which is why it’s such a hard habit to break.

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