On Budgeting and Spinners

Fidget Spinners.  If you don’t know what they are, I’m pretty fidget spinnerssure you’ve been living under a rock for the last several months.  They’re everywhere.  I’ve even seen photos on Facebook of women attaching mini spinners to their fingernails.  Seriously.  Having two kids of my own, yes the spinner craze has hit our house too.  “But they’re, like, therapeutic.”  “No, for most of you they’re just a toy.”  Alas, we gave in.  Not totally.  After all, the first spinner was a bribe for good behavior.  Hey, I’ll admit I’m not above bribery when it comes to children’s behavior.  True to the American way, however, one is never enough.  And I made a lesson of it.

While visiting a local store, I noticed they had spinners in stock (hard to find around here).  But not only were they spinners, they were purple spinners with the Minnesota Vikings logo at the center.  At our house, we bleed purple when it comes to football.  I know.  You can make all the cracks you want about the number of Vikings Super Bowl rings.  But at least we aren’t wearing cheese on our heads.

Vikings SpinnerMy kids (and even my wife) were understandably excited about the Vikings spinners.  “Well why didn’t you buy some?”  Why?  Because you each already have a spinner and I didn’t feel like spending another $12 at the time.  In person, I may have been a little nicer about it than that.

Sure, it would have been only $6 per kid, but I didn’t really feel like spending the extra money on something I’m already a little resistant to.  So I decided to offer an alternative.  I told them we could go back right away and they could each get a Vikings spinner, but they were going to pay for it themselves.

“Oh…. you mean with our own money?”  “You’re not going to buy them for us?”  “But it’s not that much money.”

They were right, it wasn’t going to be that much money.  It certainly wasn’t going to risk putting food on the table or keeping the lights on…. even if I bought one for my wife too.  Nor were my kids going to risk anything either.  They don’t have any bills that they are responsible for.  And they each have a wallet full of cash, more than I ever carry.

And yet, we never did go back to get those precious Vikings spinners.  Two weeks later and I haven’t heard another peep about them.

It was a good lesson for my kids.  When it’s our own money on the line, we are more likely to realize just how precious some things are or are NOT.

Have I been perfect with those lessons for my kids?  Nope.  After all, I like to do nice things and buy nice things for my kids.  I’m a parent.

But if you were to look around for those little things you have bought for your kids as a treat, how many could you even find?  Of those you could find, when is the last time they were used versus just moved out of the way?

I’m not saying you should never do anything nice for your kids.  Instead, take some of the opportunities to do the nice thing of teaching them value and cost.

  • Make them work for their money by doing chores.  It teaches them value.
  • Make them pay for some of those extra things.  If forces them to think about what’s really valuable to them.
  • Talk through the choice with them.  Don’t talk at them, but rather help them process their decision.
  • Let them make mistakes even if you see it coming.  Let them learn now while the consequences are pretty minimal rather than down the road when a mistake means not having a rent payment.
  • Model healthy financial behaviors in your own actions.  You better believe they are watching and learning whatever you are modeling for them.

People assume that just because we all deal with money, we just automatically know how to take care of it.  Let me tell you, that is in no way the truth.  And having more money does not guarantee financial success any more than having less money.

If you are struggling with your own budgeting and would like some help getting it in line to better model for your kids, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help.  They are non-judgmental and let you set the priorities and direction.  They just help guide you on your way.  You can either call 605-330-2700 or schedule an appointment online.  Services are available in-person, over the phone, or by internet.

And if you do come in for an appointment and bring your spinner, well….. we’ll talk about that when you get here.


written by Breck Miller


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