I may have to amend my position on those darn toy videos.
A couple of months ago, my daughter became obsessed with a toy from a toy video: the Little Live Pets CleverKeet.
(Yes, that is an affiliate link. We are now proud members of the Amazon affiliate program. One small link for us, one giant leap for JohnJaneDoe.com).
Watching the toy video made Little Bit want something again. But a magical thing happened, and she started saving her money.
All of a sudden, she wasn’t talking about wanting something new every 5 minutes. Not more Monster High, not more Power Rangers, and not even trips to Dollar Tree.
Nope, Little Bit wanted an animatronic bird that “repeats what you say and makes burps and fart noises.” As with most things, when she said she wanted it, I told her “Well, save your money.”
Instead of just sighing “Ooookaayyy,” this time, she answered back with a quick “How Much?”
She was motivated to save. It was time to bait that hook and bring my little minnow in for a life lesson.
Working with the Bank of Mom
We looked it up and the CleverKeet was around $40 including tax. So Little Bit took a look at her money box. It wasn’t pretty. A few lonely coins jingled, totaling a little over $2. It was going to take 2 months.
But I figured now was the time to introduce Little Bit to the power of interest. Enter the Bank of Mom, which had some kinda strange terms and a pretty good rate, all aimed at encouraging saving money by making the goal of the CleverKeet reasonable for a 5 year old.
I figured to keep Little Bit motivated, interest had to be understandable and significant enough to make a measurable difference in the amount of money she had to spend. No compounding or fractional cents, just a hefty penalty for early withdrawals.
I promised that if Little Bit didn’t spend any of her money for the entire week, then each non-allowance day afterward she’d get an extra quarter until she spent money again. Once she spent money, she’d have to wait at least a week before she could earn any more interest.
If she could hang on to the $5 spending money from her allowance, the next week she could get $6.50. And the week after that, too, unless she spent some money.
With her $2 in change, that shaved the time needed to save from 8 to 6 weeks.
March 11 got a big circle on the calendar. If Little Bit worked with the Bank of Mom, then on that day we could make the order from Amazon.
I’m not going to lie. There were several times Little Bit wanted to spend her money, especially as her money box total got over $20.
But every time I heard another “I want”, I could point out how much further she’d be to her goal if she spent her money on a doll or Pokemon cards. Spend her capital, and she’d no longer get interest (at least not for a week.). Keep saving, and she realized that the day she could buy the CleverKeet was only a few weeks away.
She decided she’d name it Disco.
The Gift Card Dilemma
Only one hiccup came in the savings process, and it came in late February. Jon was cleaning up and found an unopened Christmas card for Little Bit that had fallen behind a bookshelf sometime in December.
The card was from my uncle, and included a $25 gift card to Walmart.
So, what to do? We could give the card to Little Bit, who could use it and her savings to buy the CleverKeet she wanted three weeks early, for a slightly higher price.
Or, we could not mention the gift card until she had reached her savings goal so that she got the experience of saving for a goal (and saved $4).
Machiavellian parents that we are, the gift card is still tucked away. #Sorrynotsorry One of these days, we’ll pull it out and take her to Walmart, but we weren’t about to derail the savings train and the life lesson we were trying to teach.
Little Bit was learning to wait. She was learning that savings isn’t always easy, and that short term desires can derail you from a long term goal. It’s a lesson lots of grown ups can stand to learn, and hopefully my daughter will have mastered it before the stakes become higher than just which toy she can afford to buy.
As soon as Bit woke up on the 11th, she said, “I get my allowance today. Disco!”
So we went to the couch and got out her Kindle (We had determined a few weeks ago that Amazon had the best price.) Click. click. I entered my password (because the last thing I want is for my kid to have 1-Click power.) Disco was now two days away.
It came on Sunday. After
6 hours 20 minutes wrestling with the package, we had a Disco party.
It’s a cool toy that repeats what you say, swings on a perch, dances and sings and rides around on a little push cart. And yes, it does make burping and farting noises, and she’s taught it to say things like “Boogers!”
For a five year old, that’s way cool.
For her mother, the cool thing is that Little Bit now knows she can save up for the things that she wants, and that some things are worth saving for.
Does that mean she doesn’t still want frivolous stuff? Of course not. No sooner had Disco arrived than Bit began talking about all of the other things she wants. It’s a list about a mile long. But she’s learned an important lesson about what she is capable of doing if she is patient with her money. She’s learned that she can accomplish a goal.
And yeah, she has a really cool toy.
What was the first big thing you ever saved for? How did you stay motivated? What tricks do you use now?