The Magic Teddy Bear; When Money Finally Clicked for My Daughter

I’ve struggled to get my daughter interested in money. She’s 10 years old which should be plenty old enough to “get ” money but for whatever reason she just didn’t. She didn’t care to earn it or spend it. I’ve tried all the tricks to get her interested. I give her spending money to spend when we are on vacation. Nothing. I pay her for chores. Nothing. The kicker is that she will do the chores but then doesn’t even care to get paid! We have a chore chart on the fridge and after a chore is done the kids have to mark it off. Then once a week we pay them for the chores they have done. I know my daughter does her chores but she never has any marks on the paper and therefore doesn’t get paid. Meanwhile my 5 year old son is all about checking off his chores and getting his allowance.

She lost a school library book a few weeks back. She knew that she had to pay the fine with her own money. It wasn’t a fight, she suggested it. The fee was $16. She was going to use some of her birthday money and didn’t seem phased by this one single bit. Which bothered me. No skin off her nose to pay $16 for a book she lost. She wasn’t upset that she lost the book and she wasn’t upset that she has to pay the money. No. Big. Deal.

But finally, over Christmas break something finally clicked. I think.

She loves stuffed animals so for Christmas I got her a gift card to Build-A-Bear Workshop. It actually hurt my feelings a little to spend so much on a teddy bear but I did it. She was only mildly excited by the gift card on Christmas morning. As expected she didn’t really “get it”. Later, I found it lying haphazardly on her desk and tried to explain that it’s money and it needs to be kept safe.

But all that changed when we got to the store a week later. Finally she understood what the gift card was all about. She had a blast picking out her bear and buying an outfit. I had just enough on the card to buy one bear and one outfit of reasonable cost (unreasonable cost really, but middle of the road considering where we were). Of course she wanted the most expensive of everything. I told her if she went over the gift card amount she could use her own money for the extra. She did not want to do this so we spent a very long time analyzing every outfit in the store and it’s price. Finally she made her decision and we got out of the store with a $3 balance on the card.

It didn’t end there. She is now very aware of how much money she has and how to get more money. She has $80 saved up and originally said she was going to spend it all on accessories for her new bear. Then she changed her mind and decided to only spend $20 and keep the other $60. I was super proud of her.

Then her lost library book came back to haunt her. On the first day back from Christmas break the school library sent home an official letter saying she owes the $16 for the missing book.

“But that’s $16 of my $20 I was going to spend at Build-A-Bear!”

Boy, what a change of tune from her this time around. I was happy to see it. Not that I want her to be upset but it’s nice to see that she’s finally understanding money a little bit. We got to talk about taking care of things and being responsible when you borrow something. Now that she has to make a sacrifice to pay for the book she really regrets not taking better care of it.

Now that she is short on her spending money she is interested in getting paid for her work. Check marks have started appearing on her chore chart. Quarters are filling her bucket.

Finally! It was the story of the cobblers barefoot son around here. My own child didn’t care about money! I’m glad that’s behind us… hopefully.

Here’s why I think it finally clicked.

Mostly I think it was just time. She had to figure it out someday, right? So I believe timing was a huge part of it.

Also, stuffed animals are her favorite thing and Build-A-Bear Workshop is the height of the stuffed animal world. So the gift of being able to go there was huge! Now that she has seen she can buy some really cool stuff with money she wants that really cool stuff. She finally realizes that money is the way to get it and working is a way to get money. Also not spending money on things that don’t bring value (like lost library books) take away from being able to get cool stuff.

It was just the perfect storm for learning about money. Lucky me.

About Ashley

3 Responses to “The Magic Teddy Bear; When Money Finally Clicked for My Daughter”

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  1. I *knew* it was just a matter of time before it clicked……after all, she is your daughter. LOL. It’s fun to watch kids figure financial things out – you can almost see the wheels turning in their head, can’t you?

  2. Brad Chaffee says:

    That’s fantastic Ashley! 🙂

    Money is tied to emotion and when something becomes emotionally important to us it inspires us into action. As things are right now, Isaac (my 5 year old) seems to get that his dad hates debt and understands to some degree the whole saving, giving, spending thing.

    It’s really just a matter of time before I truly know but I know one thing. I would be devastated to find out he has grown up and run up a bunch of debt. LOL I do think the most critical years to educate our children about money are their teen years so I have plenty of time to be creative in educating him. haha!

    I have had to accept the fact that any of my kids could buy into the debt thing but I do hope my parenting encourages them to do otherwise.

  3. Great story, sometimes the best lessons are the ones we (our kids) learn the hard way. And better to learn the financial ones at 10 rather than later in life. So all of those other money lessons you tried teaching finally sank in – as a father of 3 with the oldest being 18, that’s pretty typical (although often you don’t get to see the moments when they “click” as the kids get older).

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