Holy Rotten Shopping Trip, Batman!

by Lindy on December 30, 2010

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The day after Christmas, we did what any family who just received a ton of stuff would do – we went out and bought more.

It all started innocently with these cute little plushies…

These were Baby-Rock’s Christmas gifts from us this year.  We debated buying some for EeBee too, but then our parental density stepped in and said, “meh, they can share.”

But come Christmas morning, 2 -year-old Baby Rock was not so keen on sharing.  Can you blame him?  And 6 -year-old EeBee was envious of the big-headed plushies, with their cute button eyes and their wee capes.  So envious that he spent the morning finding deviant ways to sneak Batman away and hide him as his own.

In order to foster a toy truce, A-Rob suggested that EeBee use his Christmas money to buy his own Batman doll.

To which EeBee said, “Well, how much Chrismas money do I have?”

And A-Rob, practicing full disclosure, replied. “$40.”

(Mistake #1: arming a 6 year old with knowledge of a $40 payout on the day after Christmas)

The Christmas money was from my sweet Grandpa Poppy.   At this point I must confess: I have a tendency to keep this sort of gifted money a secret from the kids.  I’ll save it for down the road after the toy-induced-crazies have safely subsided.  And sometimes I use it to buy them something boring, like clothes.

But A-Rob was not abreast of my plan.   And he becomes irrationally burdened with guilt at the thought of withholding money that is rightfully theirs.

(Mistake #2: not discussing the gift-money game plan until this very moment)

So off to the stores we went.  EeBee gravitated towards the usual suspects that already litter our house on a daily basis:  Legos, video games, the duplicate plushy of course, a policeman uniform (okay, that one was a little unexpected).  After two stores, a lot of 6-year-old deliberation, and several spending scenarios later, he ended up with one new Batman plushy, and one new video game.

As I watched him shop I started to feel uneasy, watching him pick up item after item that, in my opinion, he didn’t need.  And by the time we were done shopping and heading out to get some lunch, I was feeling low.  Absolutely blue if you must know.

What have I done?  My son has the mother-load of all Christmas loot sitting at home, and I’m teaching him that it’s not enough!  I’m teaching him to want more.  He’ll never grow into a prudent adult and it’s all my fault!

(Mistake #3: Assuming I was immune to emotional melt-downs now that Christmas was over)

But thankfully my low moments have been trending towards productive lately.  And by the next morning A-Rob and I had come up with a new game plan for all future gift monies.

We decided it will be used to renew our membership to the Children’s Museum, or to take the kids to the new aquarium, or the zoo, or it’ll be saved as spending money for an upcoming vacation.

Actually, we didn’t come up with this game plan, I did, and I got A-Rob to agree by sneaking in and asking him before he had his morning coffee.  And probably because he had to sit next to me at lunch while I had my post-Christmas consumer freak out.

Do you like reading about my melt-downs?  I seem to have had many lately.  I hope they help you in some way.  I promise this is the last one for a while.

What do you think is the best way to handle gift money for young ones?  Did you go out shopping the day after Christmas and have a melt-down too?

A big thank you to Funny About Money for hosting the Carnival of Money Stories and including this little ditty.

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  • Okay, I am sorry, but I really like your meltdowns. Only because you seem to immediately find the humor in them. You also seem to figure some life lesson and you share your wisdom with us.
    Those plushies are too cute. I am thinking of deviant ways to procure one for our household. I absolutely love the idea of using the kids money for museum or zoo passes. My kids are older so that is something we would have to discuss, because they keep track of their own money.

    • Lindy

      Well I’m glad my meltdowns are serving a purpose then. :) The plushies are called Funko Plushies. We found them at Borders Bookstore, but they also have them on Amazon, here.

  • So far DS hasn’t gotten any money, other than his 60 cents per week allowance. I’m split on what to do with large sums.

    On the one hand, it seems like they should go directly into his 529 plan. He has way more stuff than he needs as it is, and we value education.

    On the other hand, we’re going to be paying for his college years anyhow and maybe he should be allowed some say in what he spends his money on, so maybe it should just go in his money jar to do with as he sees fit.

    I’m guessing that with genuinely large sums we’ll make sure he saves them. With moderately large sums we’ll probably let him put them in his jar and allow a cool-down period before we actually get to a store. Let him think long and hard about what he wants to purchase.

    My mom always took our grandma money and purchased a nice present with it (like porcelain dolls), then wrapped it and stuck From: Grandma on it. But DS gets SO MANY presents from relatives that it would probably be a waste to do that.

    • Lindy

      I once heard a good idea about doing a savings match for kids to encourage them to save. I’m thinking this might work when he gets older. It seems like there are those kids who like to save and those who like to spend, no matter what their parents try to teach them.

      I’ve thought about making him save his allowance and gift money. He was motivated once when he wanted an expensive action figure. But since then, not so much. It also feels kind of weird because A-Rob and I don’t save our gift money – we spend it!

  • Great post! I think you handled EeBee’s desire to spend his money well — sounds like you were able to reign in the spending to only his $40 — battle won, in my opinion, since he understands the value of money. Although your idea to save money for memberships is a great idea!

    • Lindy

      I hadn’t thought about that. That is one thing.

  • LOL! This is a terrific post! One of the beauties of gettin’ old is being able to enjoy other parents’ stories and silently say to oneself, “Mwa ha ha! I’ll never have to do that again.

    Problem with the plan for future Christmas windfalls is that now the kid KNOWS about them. Next Christmas, what’re you going to say when he demands custody of the money that was given to him?

    Well, forty bucks doesn’t go far in a toy store. It really is a dandy way to teach him how to handle a finite amount of cash.

    • Lindy

      Well thank you. And you have every right to sit back and enjoy my kid mishaps. I’m looking forward to that day myself!

  • I want a plushie now too, they are adorable. I hadn’t even seen them before.

    Meltdowns are a part of life. I like to read about them too, it makes us all feel human and normal.

    Regarding money gifts, when the kids were younger, they just went straight into their bank accounts. Now that they are older, I let them decide what to do with it, along with some friendly guidance from me.

  • I used to have the notion that “windfalls” were meant to be spent. Now I like the idea that maybe 50% can be spent and 50% saved. We just set up my youngest son’s first bank account yesterday and he’s on a mission to go deposit money every day it seems. Weird.

    I wonder if before the money ever comes in if they should have some idea in mind of what they want to buy rather than just go to the store and mindlessly decide “I MUST buy SOMEthing – ANYthing.” That’s the mindset that I used to have when I was bad with money, like it was burning a hole in my pocket or something or would spontaneously combust if I didn’t spend it. That’s what I want to teach my kids anyway, to learn to have a plan for things.

    • Lindy

      Actually, I can see how the novelty of having a bank account would make him feel more excited about putting money away – maybe because of the “adultness” of it all. That’s a good idea about having an idea in mind, or even a waiting period to sit and think about it. You guys all have some great ideas here!

  • when our daughter started working, we insisted she save 10% of everything she made. Now 27, she actually mentioned the other day how good that felt to have her own money in the bank, tho’ she was just a teen. Imagine…she admitted we did something right! ;)

  • My 5 year old is starting to understand the difference between expensive toys and reasonably priced toys. He has a piggy bank that we sometimes make him take money out of when he really wants to buy something (like the pirate flag for his room). I still take all his gift money and put it in a 529 though but I’m not sure I’ll always do that.

    My parents used to take my gift money for themselves and as a child, it always felt like they were stealing from me.

    • Lindy

      I could see how you felt they were stealing, I would probably feel the same way. Once they can open their own cards is probably the cut-off age for taking command of their gift money.

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