Have you ever walked down the toy aisle of your favorite store with your jaw dragging the floor over the prices you see?
That’s me. Ever since having children, I have LOVED the toy aisle. It’s so fun to go see all the toys that you think your kids would love and imagine them playing with them.
But I’ve also hated it. Who knew simple toys could be so expensive?
As you know, we have sometimes struggled with having sufficient income to pay our bills, let alone buy extra toys. But that doesn’t seem to stop the urge to give your kids EVERYTHING. 😉 So it’s nice that we can afford to get them the odd toy now and then.
But I’ve learned something recently that has kind of set me straight: I don’t need to buy toys for my kids!
When I give my kids toys, they simply feel like being given toys is part of life – something that they’re entitled to – and they ask for more toys. There are never enough toys to satisfy them, and going down the toy aisle at Walmart becomes a huge hassle with kids incessantly as, “can I have that? Oh, can I have that too?”
It’s all so bright and shiny that a kid can hardly be blamed.
It was my own fault, though, and I realized my mistake one day after Garrett had asked (for the thousandth time) if he could have a remote control truck. Now I’d rather my kids had more open-ended toys like legos, and I don’t like remote-controlled toys because they eat batteries and break easily, so I didn’t want to buy him a truck.
But Garrett didn’t relent, so we settled on an alternative. I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before. I guess I just thought he was too little – but he’s not!
It’s really simple: Garrett would do chores that we would pay him for, and he would save his money to buy his own toys.
This solution has worked brilliantly! It took a few days for him to really comprehend what was going on, and since his desired toy had such a steep price tag (for such a little boy), he got a little frustrated with how long it took to save up for it, but now, when we go down the toy isle, instead of begging for a toy, he asks how much it costs (and if that’s more money than he has ;)).
Not only that, but Garrett has turned into a much more willing helper around the house – even when he’s not getting paid!
Here’s what earning his own money to pay for his toys has taught Garrett:
Why We Stopped Buying Toys For Our Kids
- Nothing is free. At one time, he just assumed we should get things for him because he didn’t understand that we had to work for the money with which to buy them. Now he knows better.
- Toys aren’t a given. If you don’t work, you don’t play (that’s how the saying goes, right?!) Toys aren’t going to magically appear in the toy box if he doesn’t work to earn money.
- Goal setting. It’s one thing for him to say, “I’m going to be Superman when I grow up!”, and quite another to learn how to set an attainable goal – and reach it!
- Patience. It’s hard to wait for something you really, really want, but you just don’t have a choice when you’re paying for your own toys out of your own hard-earned money.
- Perseverance. I don’t think kids are born with perseverance. Nobody wants to do hard, uncomfortable things (even if it’s just taking out the trash every Tuesday), but the sooner kids learn that there is a reward to persevering, the easier they’ll have it in life.
I know some of you are shaking your head at this point and maybe feeling a little bit sorry for my kids, but I assure you, they have plenty of toys, and I think they’ll be all the more excited on their birthdays when mommy does buy them toys.
After all, rarity makes a thing precious!
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I totally agree with you. My wife and I have been talking about scaling back Christmas. On one hand…you almost feel guilty to change because of all the wonderful things we received as kids. On the other hand…consumerism in this country has gotten totally out of control. We all should dial it back…and with this stealth depression that is creeping up on us…people are going to have to!
We also pay the kids for certain chores. We’ll also list and sell their old stuff for them on eBay…let them work in the family business…and show them other ways to make money.
Teaching kids about personal finance is so important. My daughter learns personal finance as part of the home school curriculum we use (Ron Paul Curriculum).
Keep up the great work. Great blog!
Thanks DP! Helping them sell old toys on eBay is a great idea too!