How do you balance raising children who have good money sense when you are a thrifter?
Our thrifted children (raised not purchased) truly have a different concept of money than the rest of our society. We rarely shop retail, our spending dollar goes much further than it would in a regular store and weekends can be like Christmas to them.
Every Saturday after I return home from the sales I am bombarded with the question, "did you get me anything?". Sometimes they don't even bother asking me and simply run by me and start looking in the back of the van. Overall they are correct. I do have something for them. I may find them a pair of jeans for $2.00 or a pair of antlers (for my Elfquest loving daughter) for .50 cents.I do bring them home something nearly every weekend.
While they do have weekly instant gratification, what I bring home is always a surprise. It kind of takes us back to the hunter gatherer days where you really never know what you will bring home. Thankfully we don't have to survive on what I thrift. On the rare occasion I do come home empty handed.
In September Keiran started asking me for a Battleship game. He wanted me to buy one from Target when we were there. I told him that I see these games all the time and I'd pick up a thrifted one. Uh well that was months ago. And I didn't see a single game. I looked at yard sales, thrift stores and asked friends if they had any games that I could buy for Keiran. Nothing. Keiran would continue to ask me if I found one and I'd have to tell that sweet, pouty face no. I didn't give in to retail pressure even though it would have been easy to buy one either at a local toy store or from Amazon.com.
Two weeks ago it was a cloudy day in Sebastopol. It was Sunday and very quiet. I pulled up to a small sale and there on the sidewalk in a bin of other games was Battleship. Attempting to keep my thrift cool I didn't run up to it and exclaim "I must have this". Instead I wandered around the sale asking prices about various items. When I finally asked her the price of the game she told me $3.00. Between you and me I really wanted to pay $2.00 for it even though it is this edition and sold for $38 retail. Can you believe after 4 months of searching I mentally stumbled and couldn't decide if I had wanted to pay $3.00 for the game? I told myself to be quiet, pulled three "ones" from my wallet and took the game home to my boy.
I know my children will grow up having a different outlook on money. I'm aware that in some ways I spoil them each time I bring them something from a yard sale. But I feel that I help repair this routine when we are at a retail store and I say "no, I don't want to buy that here. I don't think it is good value for money." I try to explain that their $12 item in their hands might cost just $1.00 in thrift dollars.
I do try to bring the children with me and let them experience thrifting in the field, especially the bartering part. I want them to find the nerve to walk up to the seller and ask if they would take .50 cents for an item instead of a dollar. It does kind of backfire when Cerys wants Wholefoods to sell her a cupcake for $1 instead of $1.99. At least she is getting the lesson.
It's not easy raising thrifted kids in our culture where cool, shiny new things seems to be everywhere whether you shop at Walmart, or Target or the Dollar store. They all seem enticing and leave the children feeling vulnerable with their desire. Like everything in my life, I try to do things in moderation. I won't be the girl who buys 100% second hand items because I like to buy things new occasionally. I prefer discounted items but I have been known to buy new and I'm okay with that. Why am I thrifty? So that I can have choices on where to spend my money. Frugality is all about having choices and those choices will be different for every one of us.
What financial lessons do you thrifters teach your children?