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Giving DS-12 a money lesson

March 3rd, 2013 at 07:02 am

Had the opportunity yesterday to give DS (12) a money lesson. He's aware of the Amazon gift cards I receive through Swagbux. I snagged another one yesterday, and mentioned that I will now have $60 in the account. Here's our conversation:

Mom: "Hey, I snagged another $5 Amazon GC on Swagbux today. I'm up to $60."
Son: "Cool. I was looking at a new XBOX game, and if you pre-order it on Amazon, you get an extra (blah, blah). The game is $60, which is the same price as GameStop and Best Buy. Can I order it?" (At least he comparison shops)!
Mom: "Do you have the money for it?" (He gets money from grandma and others for Christmas and birthdays).
Son: "Yeah, but you have the gift cards. That way, I don't need to use my money."
Mom: "Dude, gift cards are just like money. If I don't use my gift cards on this game, I can use them for something else down the road. It's exactly the same thing as cash, it's just that I can only use them at Amazon."
Son: "But you got them for free."
Mom: "They weren't "free". I had to spend my time to get them, just like at work I have to spend time to get paid. If you want the game, you need to give me the money for it."
Son: "I'll think about it".

Yes, you think a lot harder about it when it's cash out of your own pocket. In the end, I'm guessing he'll go ahead and fork over the money for it, but I'd say it's a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10, instead of a 12 if I were paying. If he goes ahead, I'll use the gift cards to pay and add the cash to my gift envelope, to give me flexibility to spend it elsewhere in the future.

Does anyone have good suggestions for making the connection to kids that gift cards = cash (almost)?

5 Responses to “Giving DS-12 a money lesson”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Put all HIS money on a gift card!! Then he'll see it actually limits you to put money on a gift card because you can only spend it in one place.

    I do the same thing with my Amazon gift cards. If I buy something there, I just pull the cash in my checking account aside to save for Christmas.

  2. scfr Says:

    Ooh - Good question! It's obvious that many ADULTS don't realize that gift cards = cash; just look at how many go unused.

    Does he get an allowance? What if he got his allowance on gift cards for a few months, for stores that he frequents regularly. If he loses it, no replacement.

    I used to be more lax about gift cards. But after doing a major clean out about 15 years ago and finding several that were gathering dust, I realized I needed to start treating them like cash. (Back then they DID expire and could be drawn down with inactivity fees.) I now either keep them in my wallet or in a special box where I keep important things like passport, safe deposit box key, and cash. I even track gift card balances when I do my net worth statement.

  3. mjrube94 Says:

    Tracking the balances is a great idea SCFR! I did an inventory a while ago, but I don't do it regularly. The kids get a lot of cards for Christmas and birthdays, and I usually exchange them with the kids for cash, so they can deposit the cash in the bank (and I know I'll get around to using them, where the kids would put them in a drawer and forget about them). May be a good idea to let them keep the cards and see how useful (or not) they can be.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    I think you can get a swagbucks account once you turn 13. Maybe if he had to earn them himself he'd make the connection. My son wants to sign up for one when he turns 13 later this month. I believe you can have more than one account per household.

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I was about to make a similar suggestion as LR. Maybe have him do enough work on SB to earn a $5 card. He can do the searches, watch the videos, etc. Then once he reaches 450 SBs tell him that it took all that just to earn $5! Smile (and let him have that $5 of course - which can only be spent on amazon, unless he wants to go for a different one.)

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