Delayed Gratification

posted by TAG Guest Blogger

April 9, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

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Perhaps you can relate to these statements:

  • “When I was a kid, we didn’t have DVR … we didn’t even have a VCR. A Charlie Brown Christmas came on once a year and it was a momentous occasion we waited for … and didn’t miss.”
  • “iPhone? We had ONE phone in our house when I was growing up. It was in the kitchen and had a cord that was three feet long.”  Some of us might even be able to refer to a rotary dial.
  • “Laptop computer? My papers were typed on a typewriter. There was one girl in college that had a Brother word processor and that was cutting edge.”

Life has changed significantly in a short period of time – even just a few short years. Technology is improving at light speed and in this ‘On Demand’ world, we’re becoming more and more accustomed to getting whatever we want, when we want it. While getting what we want quickly is lovely, our children will learn at some point that the world doesn’t always work that way. In teaching them lessons in financial planning and delaying that which we desire to have or accomplish, we can truly make life easier for them and set a strong foundation for financial viability.  

Whether your children receive an allowance or money as gifts, there are ways we can help them prepare for spending, saving and sharing and learn the value of waiting and working for what you want.

Where to start? Try following these five steps:

  1. What do you want? Help your children determine a strategy for how they would like to use their money. Perhaps there’s a special item they’re interested in or a particular organization they would like to support.
  2. Planning and goal setting. They’ve determined what they want to do with their money, now help them develop a plan for reaching their goals. Set aside a certain percentage of their income for sharing, spending and saving and earmark an end to mark success.
  3. Regular assessment. Every so often, sit down together and reevaluate financial plans. Maybe that new game they were saving for isn’t as important as it was three months ago. Perhaps they were exposed to a new charity and would like to adjust their ‘sharing’ percentage or they have decided they’d like to attend a private university instead of a public institution and need to increase their savings. Real world lessons apply here.
  4. Celebrate success. He’s saved for six months for that special item and met his goal. Go to the store together to make the purchase. She met her goal of sharing $20 with the local animal shelter. Treat her to ice cream after dropping off the money and talk about her accomplishment and how she feels about helping others. He made his savings goal. Take him to the bank to open a savings account or make a deposit.
  5. Start now. Regardless of the age of your children, it’s never too late to start this process. They could be tiny or in their teens and the benefits of learning these practices will not be lost.

Looking for some more resources for teaching your children about money? Check out S.C. Economics’ Jump On It! program and the Weekday Talking Tips.

About the Author:

As president of S.C. Economics since 2003, Helen Meyers leads initiatives that provide K-12 teachers with resources for teaching economics. She brings extensive classroom experience to this role in addition to non-profit leadership experience includingJunior Achievement of Central South Carolina, the National Association of Economic Educators, the SC Jump$start Coalition,Women in Philanthropy and serves on the Talk About Giving Advisory Board.

Meyers received a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary/special education from Western Illinois University and a Masters of Education from Southern Illinois University.


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