Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pay Day

Subtitle: 5 year olds have little understanding of the concept of time.

Those of you tuning into Fatherhood Friday last week know that Big Brother is now earning an allowance.

He received his first allowance money, $2, on Friday.

No surprise, then, that we made a trip to Target.

Big Brother was allowed to "pool" this money with $2 from his piggy bank, giving him $4 to spend.

And it was interesting for me to watch his decision-making process regarding his "prize". In particular, because he faced the "Buy something now versus buy what I really want later" dilemma.

He found an Iron Man nite light for $1 and a Hot Wheels color changing car for $3.

However, the color changing Lightning McQueen was $6.

Now the world of a 5 year-old is one of instant gratification. That is, I knew that Big Brother was going to go for the nite light and Hot Wheels car, but I made sure he understood his options (particularly to minimize risk of meltdown tantrum later).

"You can buy the nite light and Hot Wheels this week, or wait 1 more week and buy Lightning McQueen. But if you buy the nite light and Hot Wheels, you'll have to wait 3 more weeks to buy Lightning McQueen."

I knew he would have a hard time understanding having to wait 3 weeks--as I said, a 5 year old's understanding of time is about as good as my ability to multitask.

However, Big Brother insisted that he understood. And, in fact, he was very happy with his items.

(Little Brother got a Hot Wheels car, too. Hard to buy for one and not the other. We may have to start taking Big Brother on special trips when he cashes in his allowance money.)

I'll admit that I got a little worried when Big Brother told Mom-E, "I know I have to wait 3 HOURS before I can get the Lightning McQueen."

Try 3 weeks, buddy. (This from the same kid who, when presented with an old toy he hasn't played with in a while, says 'I haven't seen this in 100 years.')

But tonight at dinner Big Brother seemed to get that he has to wait 19 days to earn enough allowance money to buy Lightning.

In addition to teaching him important lessons about saving and taking care of your 'things', we just might even exercise our patience muscle, too.

Way to go, Big Guy. Keep up the good work.

Have a good week,


  1. Great lesson, and excellent way to teach it! I think we might have to start an allowance for Madaghan.

    Come to think of it,some adults could use this lesson too. If I buy a 300K house and I only make 25K a year...

  2. Haha, three hours! That is funny! I'd love to continue seeing updates on Big Brother's adventures with his allowance! This is fun! love, aunt-e

  3. Well, instant gratification is the best part of shopping. Lets see if he holds up for three weeks. I started doing a sticker chart with Kaitlyn and in a month if she does well she decided that she wants a barbie she has had her eye on for a while now. Every time we go to the store she insist on taking a look at it, admires it and then puts it back on the shelf. So far she realizes that it must be earned. Rosi

  4. This is cute, and such a good lesson for Big Brother. He is learning how to make decisions with his money, and how to budget.

  5. Maybe to you it doesn't make sense. But to a time traveling five year old...

  6. That's pretty cool. I think I'm going to try this with my wife. If it works for a 5-year old, it HAS to work for my wife!

    @ Eric - Time traveling 5-year old... That's funny.

  7. What a great lesson for Big Brother! Now, who's patience muscle is going to be exercised, your's or his?

  8. I enjoyed that! Five-year-olds and their idea of time. Love it!

    CY Aunt-E

  9. Every morning when Big Brother wakes up, he asks me, "How many days have I waited?" and then, "How many days do I have left?" When I respond with something like 18 days, I hear "ooooohhhhhh maaaaannnnn!"

  10. @O'Shea: Yep, if he learns that you can only spend what you have, he'll have learned a lot (though eventually, we probably need to make him save some of the money).

    @Aunt-E: Yep, it's a daily countdown to the next trip to Target.

    @Rosi: It was hard, but we also got to the point with the boys that we could look at toys without buying anything, and they could put them back without screaming.

    @Gramm-E: He's doing okay with things so far, and he does a good job keeping up with his "chores."

    @Eric: I want time travel. How much does it cost? I'll have to save my allowance.

    @Que: Good luck. But doesn't your wife give you your allowance money?

    @Surprised Mom: BOTH of us. Definitely both.

    @CY Aunt-E: You know how they are.

    @Mom-E: We should start showing him on the dry-erase calendar.

  11. Yeah... well... Yeah, she does! But I didn't expect you to blast that out in public like that. Thanks, man for throwing me under a bus. So if you will excuse me, I will go ask for my allowance money. $2 IS $2.