The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Life Lessons – Money and Video Games

Like many parents, we give our kids a weekly allowance.  They are required to pay for certain things out of their allowance and they are also expected to save a predetermined amount of it.  Recently the kids informed JB and I that they had been saving their money and they wanted to go shopping.  They all had a particular thing they wanted to buy and had a plan for doing so.  JB and I nodded and agreed to take them shopping in between our regular Saturday errands.

While riding about town, we discussed what it was that they wanted to buy.  Mid had a particular video game in mind and I told him that I thought I saw it at Costco.  Since we were going to Costco anyway, he could look for it and possibly purchase it there.  (btw, I love Costco)  Apprentice also had a video game in mind, which resulted in a similar conversation.  The Girl had other things on her mind.  She was not exactly sure what she wanted, just knew that she wanted to shop to see what would grab her attention.  I should make a point of clarification here – just because they are spending their own money earned by doing chores, etc, around the house, JB and I have veto power over any purchases.  This is sometimes an unpopular rule, but if I have to pick up another f*ing stuffed animal or piece of useless noisy plastic, I may lose it.  Anyway…

When Mid found the video games at Costco, he was terribly disappointed to see that the game he wanted to buy was $45, (what a racket), and he only had $21.  He looked around at other stuff with the Girl and Apprentice.  Girl and Apprentice did not see what they wanted, so we started to proceed to the checkout.  Mid stopped me.  “Can I borrow $24? I will pay it back over the next weeks through not getting my allowance. I really want X game.”  JB and I looked at each other.  JB was standing behind Mid.  He shook his head back and forth while mouthing, “Absolutely not”, behind Mid’s back.  I told Mid that he would have to wait, because if he did not have the cash to pay for something that he simply could not buy it.  And furthermore, it would take a long time for him to pay back the money that I would lend to him.  And what happened next week, when he would undoubtedly ask to purchase something else?  No.

Undeterred, Mid starting bargaining with me.  “I will do more chores.  My brother and sister will not have to do any, I will do all of them.  I will help with the laundry.  Whatever.  Just pppuuullleeeaaazzzeee lend me the money?”

“No,” I answered.  I started walking.  Mid was really mad at this point.  I could see that he was considering an all out tantrum, but did not go in that direction.  Worthy to note, the last time he through a tantrum in a public place, I walked away.  This is a tactic learned from my mother, for perhaps another blog.  And before you get all, “you should not have endangered your kid that way”, he was perfectly safe and I could see him the whole time. Relax.

The negotiations continued at the checkout. I explained to him that there is simply no reason that at the age of 8 he should be in debt to anyone and that, unlike the US Congress, he has to live within his means. In addition, this is a WANT, not a NEED, and didn’t they learn that in school?  Needs always come before wants, and if you don’t have the cash, the wants just have to wait.  This is so much easier to preach, isn’t it?  I digress.

As we left Costco, we agreed on a compromise.  We would go to an electronics store and he could check if the game he wanted to buy was cheaper there.  Now, we all know that these video games are usually not cheaper anywhere.  JB and I thought this would further prove our point and since the other store was in the same strip mall, no harm done.

To our surprise, a different game, a game that one his friends has and he enjoys playing, was at the other store.  The most recent version was outside his budget, so another disappointment.  However, he looked further on the shelves and found the first version of the game well within his price range.  He thought for a bit.  He brought the game over to JB to have him look it over.  Then, he proclaimed, “Since I don’t have either of these games, the first version is fine for me, and I have enough money for it.  I will just have to keep saving or wait for the other games to come down in price. Is that OKay, Mom?”  Are you kidding?  So proud that he came to this realization on his own.

As for the other two, Girl found the earrings she wanted and Apprentice found the game he wanted, both coming in under budget as well.  All in all, a successful trip for the kids, with a little money lesson built-in.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.


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2 thoughts on “Life Lessons – Money and Video Games

  1. A couple things:

    1) It’s awesome that you and JB have no debt. Like house payments or car payments or balances on credit cards. What an awesome example you are to your children and totally not hypocrites in any way to explain the process of indebtedness via US Congress analogy as opposed to . . . “your father and I”.

    2) Gamestop has used games. . . about half price. There’s also a chain. . . it might just be US only, that sells nothing BUT used games. You can almost always find popular titles at either or both.

    3) When Emma has money she finds that she simply must buy stuff with it. Even if she didn’t know there was something she wanted when she entered the store, she finds things she absolutely needs to buy once she’s there. We make her tell us what she wants first, or she can’t spend. She’s loaded.

  2. It would be awesome to have no debt, wouldn’t it? Alas, we are but Americans with a mortgage, car payment, etc.. So I guess that makes me a bit of a hypocrite? Don’t tell Mid!

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