My son who recently turned 11 years old asked for an Xbox one for his birthday. I told him $400 on a new game console plus games was way too much when his current Xbox still works just fine. My husband and I made him a deal, that if he worked and saved for the new xbox then we would buy him a new game to go along with it. Between chores and birthday money ( I had to stop the grandparents from just giving him the money), he had manged to save $180. The other day he asked me to take him to the store because he wanted to get a new game. When we saw it was $60 and he didn’t have enough cash on hand to buy it, he asked if he could use his savings. I told him it was his money to do with what he wanted but using $60 of it now would make him further in the hole towards his new xbox. He said he understood and bought it anyway. As soon as we got home he ran to his room to play the game and I went to transfer the money from his savings to my checking, and he came out and said “I can’t play it on my xbox! I don’t have enough memory!” I looked at the box and it stated on the box you needed at least 1G to play this game. He had deleted everything he could but still didn’t have enough room. His Dad came home from work and concluded he would need a buy an external hard drive to play it, thus using more of his new xbox money to play it. He didn’t want to that. We couldn’t return it because he had already opened it. So I tried to sell it on a virtual yard sale. First for $50, then for $45, $40, then lowering it to $35. Finally we had an offer for $25, less than half of he paid. I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said to take it. So we did. It was a hard lesson to learn, and as much as I just wanted to “eat” the money myself, I didn’t. He chose to buy the game and didn’t read how much memory he needed. He knows I know nothing about these things and since it was not purchase it wasn’t my responsibility to make sure it was going to work.
After we met the buyer and he was paid his $25, we went straight to the bank and he deposited the money along with his cash in his wallet. When we came home he went through his old games and asked me if he could sell the ones he didn’t play anymore. I posted some pictures and he has already made another $20 by selling 4 more games. When his dad said as soon as the grass dried out it needed to be cut again he jumped at the chance to help. He is back on his way to getting his new xbox!
I know I am dating myself when I say this but things just weren’t as expensive when I was a kid. My kids have become so use to getting everything bought for them that they have been desensitized as the value of things. I hate to say it but they don’t appreciate the things they have. If it breaks, ‘oh well, we will get a new one.’ If it is lost, ‘oh, well I will get a new one.’ My daughter has lost pieces to games minutes after opening it and said ,’ oh well, I didn’t like that one anyway.’ Ah,….no! I paid for that,….find it and find it now!!!! Had I bought that game for my son he would have just sat it to the side and said, ‘oh well, I can’t play it’ and that would have been that. But because it was his money it was different. It meant something. He lost $38 of money he had worked for not using better judgment.
The good news is, my daughter is now saving her money too. She took her piggy bank to the bank and deposited $49 worth of coins in her account and then came home to go through her stuff to see if she could sell anything. She says right now she isn’t saving for anything big, but she wants to have her own money so when she wants something she can buy it.
I told them I will of course continue to buy them clothes, shoes, and schools things. But if they just want something for no reason, they are going to decide if it is really worth it. Wants vs. Needs is a hard lesson to learn.