A few days ago I saw a discussion on Facebook about teaching children how to budget and the value of money. I entered into the debate and 'chatted' with Jen from Mum In The Madhouse (who has quite a few posts on this) about when to start giving The Boy pocket money. Personally I feel that at not quite four years old, he might be too young for it as a regular occurence but decided (upon discussion with Mr. TBaM) that we'd give him some holiday spending money in a little wallet. That way if he saw a little knick-knack or toy he fancied, he could make the decision on whether or not to buy it, guided by us.
Today, we were in Pecorama in Devon and in the shop he started looking at a few little toys and asking, "Shall we buy this?". This was the perfect time to start teaching him that things cost money and that he has to make a decision on whether he really wants something or not. My mum spotted a little wallet on the shelf and I popped £2.00 inside. I then showed him the wallet and explained that we were going to give him some pocket money for him to choose what he'd like to buy. In his hand at the time he had a wind-up train, but was eyeing up a squidgy, spiky, gel thing. He could have bought either for the money. Then he spotted a flag which he could also have afforded.
He stood in the shop, desperately trying to decide, and I fought the desperate urge to just buy all three for him. It was hard.
I patiently explained he could choose to buy one, but he couldn't have all three. He walked away from the flag, and put the squidgy thing down, picked up the train and trotted off to the counter to pay for it with his wallet. The young girl behind the counter was incredibly patient and she spoke to him, talking him through each stage of the transaction (where I also paid for the wallet!) before handing him his change and helping him put it in his wallet, and giving him his receipt and train in a bag.
Look how proud of himself he is!
The Boy wouldn't let anyone else carry his bag, and is very excited that he might be able to buy something else tomorrow with some more pocket money. He has no concept that £1 is more than 20p yet, that's a bit sophisticated for a 3 year old. However, this is the first step on the way to teaching him about finances and budgeting.
My little baby is growing up!