My son doesn't like to spend his money. He also doesn't do well with gift cards or prepaid visa cards. He doesn't want either for Christmas; however, he would like to be present for clothes shopping. How does one do that with having it be a surprise and not be a gift card?
Clearly, my son and I have to do better at actually using his gift cards, especially ones like the visa that evaporate when you aren't using them! So last night, we made a point to use his remaining WalMart gift card from Christmas 2009 and an MC Sports card from March 2010.
If you ever wondered how to teach a child to count, turn it into terms of money. When very little, my son would separate change by size (quarter, nickle, penny, dime). Then he would count how many of each. Then he learned the value of money. IF he counted the value correctly (every month or so) he would keep the change (upwards to $30 accumulated in my car and purse as I didn't spend change when he was young so it would go into his bank!). He continues to excel in math to this day. Story problems you ask? Change them to money, no problem.
Well of course that was what I thought until tonight. Last night T bought a basketball on sale, a lighted disc and a disc that can throw up to 1/4 mile. His total: $42.37. His gift card was for $20. While standing in line, before our purchases were tallied, he said he would owe me $20. He heard the total. I gave him the receipt.
Tonight he handed me $20. I was on the phone. I laughed with my friend about how T shorted me $2.37. T commented, "Seriously Mom, $2.37?"
My response, "No problem. I was going to give you $5.00 for helping me rake the leaves tonight. But Seriously, why would you want $2.63?" Of course he wanted $5.00!
Quickly he said that he would pay me the difference, rationalizing that he hadn't taken into account the tax for his purchases. He quickly calculated that in his head, amounting to $2.40, which was exactly the amount of the tax charged, but he had rounded up the three .99 amounts to the even $1.00, which was the difference of .03. He counted out the change to give me the $2.37, at which point I handed him $3.00 and told him to keep it.
Isn't it amazing how much money matters more when it is YOUR money and not someone else's?