Saturday, October 5, 2013

Money Matters

Today's post is titled money matters and I don't mean that money matters although it certainly does if we are talking about paying the bills but rather that today's post is about money, teaching Aria about fiscal responsibility, and other related issues.

We aren't rolling in the dough over here.  In fact, Aria is on Medicaid because our income is relatively low and while we are doing better now, it wasn't too long ago that we relied on SNAP benefits to keep groceries in the house.  That said, we also have it pretty good compared to the majority of the folks living in the world and a good portion of the low income families living in the U.S.  Aria doesn't want for toys, food, clothing, or extracurricular activities.  And actually our problem isn't that she doesn't have enough; its that I think she has too much.  To be fair, the same could probably be said of her mother...ahem, who has accumulated so many craft supplies that there isn't room in the apartment to stash it all away neatly.  

I've been working on destashing and getting more control over the clutter.  Its a work in progress, but every few months I attempt to purge the house of a few boxes of stuff.  My favorite donation organization is Vietnam Veterans of America.  My pops is a Vietnam veteran so there's that connection but they also pick up the stuff you want to donate.  Seriously, how cool is that?  You schedule a pick-up online, put the stuff outside the morning of your scheduled pick-up date and sometime during the day these marvelous folks show up and haul it all away for you.  

Of course controlling output doesn't do much good if you don't control input as well.  So, I'm working on that currently.  I've been more critical about whether I truly need more fabric or if I something in my stash that will suffice.  Again, its a work in progress and I have a LOT more work to do in that particular arena.

My other challenge though is getting Aria on board.  She's a kid so getting rid of toys is not exactly high on her list of priorities.  I could sneak into her room late at night or while she is with Grams and purge her room myself. I have a pretty good handle on the toys that she actually plays with but something feels not quite right about that for our family.  I know parents that do it and by all means if it works for their family, who am I to judge?  For our family though, I truly feel that Aria has a right to know that her stuff is being sent away and more importantly that she should have a say and some amount of control of what, where, and when stuff that belongs to her is sent off.  
Somewhat gratuitous photo of my sweet child.  Awesome legwarmers made by Kam Pierce.
By the way reasoning with a five year old about this is a lesson in futility.  Heh.  Anyhow, I stumbled across something that is actually working fairly well for us.  So, I thought I'd share.  It doesn't necessarily mean that it will work for your family or even that it is a good fit for your family values but that this is what works for us in this moment and while I despise judgmental, you must do it this way if you want to be a good parent, posts...I absolutely love posts where people simply share what works for them.  

First off, I figured out probably a year ago that when it comes to Aria having too much stuff, the problem isn't Aria...its me.  I was buying her little toys here and there, not truly stopping long enough to realize that she was accumulating a mass of material goods.  So I instituted an allowance and our general rule of thumb is that if Aria wants something she has to buy it herself.  The exception I make is food and the occasional frozen yogurt outing.  If Aria wants a toy or candy, she has to pay for it with her own money.  This succeeded in accomplishing two things.  First, I stopped buying things for her randomly and second, she is a lot more discriminate about how money is spent.  Oh wait...there's a third...our outings to stores are a lot more pleasant.  Very rarely do I have to listen to her whine incessantly about wanting or needing some toy or candy bar.

I am pretty happy with how it has controlled input but we were/are still sitting on a huge stash of toys and books, most of which she largely ignores.  Then one day Aria fell in love with a 10" Blossom Doll named Rosy.
The doll that won Aria's heart.
I imagine that sometimes it must be hard to see your moms craft up all sorts of wonderful things that you aren't allowed to play with.  All of our kids are pretty good about it.  They each have their own Tansy Doll so its not like we deprive them but still...there are a lot of dollies they see but know full well don't belong to them.  As per our new shopping rules, Aria was told that she would have to save up her allowance if she wanted Rosy or a doll like Rosy.  Except if you do the math even at $5.00 a week, it would take her almost 5 months of not spending a dime to be able to afford the doll. Five months to a five year old might as well be five years or fifty.  To help her reach her goal sooner, I decided that for certain chores (not the ones she is responsible for already) she could earn a little money. Its been working well.  BUT the best idea I have come up with yet is that for every medium sized bin she fills with neglected toys to give away, she can earn $10. So essentially its a buy back program.

And so far I love how its working.  Aria has a lot of control over what she keeps and doesn't keep.  She gets to decide if a toy she hasn't played with for 10 months is worth keeping or putting in the giveaway bin to help her buy Rosy or a Rosy look-a-like.  She's happy.  I'm happy.  And 2 months after starting this whole adventure, Aria's toy stash is getting smaller and more manageable AND she's only $15 away from reaching her goal.  I have a feeling that by next week, she'll be snuggling up with Rosy.

How do you teach your kids or the kids in your life about money and fiscal responsibility?  I'd love to hear as I'm always open to trying new things.


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