If you want it, you have to pay for it.
Let’s get straight to the story:
When I was youngster (perhaps around 7 or 8), my parents presented my sister (who is 3 years older than me) with a very important decision to make:
“Do you guys want Cartoon Network?”
Back in the day, Cartoon Network was a “special” station and didn’t come with the basic cable my parents subscribed to. We only got to watch it when we went to my Grandmother’s house in Queens, New York for the weekend every other week.
“Yes!” we gladly chimed.
Then, they hit us with the twist.
“That will cost you $2 weekly.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.
$2 out of our weekly allowance?? From what I could remember, we probably only got about $5 week. The number seemed outrageous. A blasphemy.
“It cost more to get the station so you all have to pay. We’re not going to be the ones watching it. If you want it, you have to pay for it”
We thought long and hard. At the time, yes, we really wanted it. But, did we really need this luxury?
We weighed the pros and cons.
1. Watching Scooby Doo and Captain Planet (two of our favorite shows) whenever we wanted.
2. We would know what’s going on in Cartoon Network land and be knowledgeable around our friends who came from Cartoon Network-having households.
3. One more channel option.
1. $2 was almost half of our allowance
2. We’d have less money weekly for other things that we might need that $2 for (such as secret trips to the corner store to buy candy we weren’t supposed to be eating).
3. We’d only be getting one extra channel option and not extra time to watch it, anyway. (My parents limited the amount of TV we could watch on week nights).
Was it worth it?
We ended up deciding against investing the $2/week for the channel. We realized that we didn’t really NEED the channel and would rather have the extra $2/week in our pockets.
So what’s the point?
5 things I learned at age 8 about money
1. Budgeting is SUPER important. Every week, I got an allowance. This allowance could be used on anything I wanted it to be, but it was still important to track HOW i was using it. What was my weekly “income”? How much could I save in a month? a few months? What were my money goals? How much could I spend and still have money left over to put towards my goals? Yes, I was thinking these things at age 8.
2. The reward of buying something with your “own money” is great. I’ll never forget the day I saved up $70 to buy a pink mountain bike. I felt so proud of myself. (I still have that bike in my basement, by the way.)
3. Don’t buy on impulse if you can’t afford to. My sister and I could have easily said “yes” to the $2/week for Cartoon Network, but we wouldn’t have been thinking about the future. Sure, we had the $2 then, but would we have it every week afterwards? (My parents weren’t the kind of parents who would pick up our end of the tab.) The worst thing would have been going into “debt” with them. They wouldn’t forget about it. As my dad would say, “debt collectors don’t forget either.”
4. You don’t need everything someone sells to you. My parents presented us with an “offer we couldn’t say no to.” Guess what, we could say no! To this day, I don’t feel bad saying “no” to offers that I don’t need (or want).
5. If you want more money, find a way to make more money (aka start a business OR get a job). My sister and I wanted a lifestyle that we couldn’t afford. It was at that young age that I started dabbling in entrepreneurship. A year (or so) later, while browsing at Barnes Nobles, I asked my mom to buy this book for me: American Girls MoneyMakers: Good Cents for Girls. It changed my young life. It helped launched me into entrepreneurship land. Most of all, it gave me the confidence to execute my ideas. P.S I still have it. (pictures below)
From this book, I learned all the basic principles about running and starting a business.Around age 9 or 10, my friends and I started a lemonade stand (but realized later we were bad lemonade-makers and people only bought from us because they thought we were “cute”.) Then, we moved on to a door-to-do cookie selling business equipped with personalized bags and cooking eating instructions. Later, I started my own customized bookmark business.
In high school, when it came time to get a “real job”, I wasted no time finding and securing jobs. I didn’t like the idea of not having “spending money” and my parents weren’t going to increase my weekly allowance. Actually, of my first summer jobs working at the local bowling alley taught me so much about customer service, working with others, and being part of a team. (Maybe I’ll write a post about that one day.)
How Learning About Money at a Young Age Changed My Life
Some people might think my parents are mean for “depriving” us of what we wanted when we were so young. I disagree. Learning to be financially smart and independent is something that, if practiced at a young age, can transcend into adulthood and make a big difference. Financial literacy is a skill that needs to be practiced. In middle, high school (and even college), I watched many of my friends and peers spend and then cry broke later on. Luckily for me, I learned the importance of saving at an early age from two Jamaican parents who made it their mission to make sure their girls didn’t grow up not understanding the value, importance, and possible evilness of money. Thanks Mommy and Daddy. You did a great job!
What’s something you learned about money at a young age? Share your story in the COMMENTS section. Thanks!
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