Teaching my children about money, budgets, credit and good financial decisions is important to me. We’ve had money lessons since they were very little. Now that they are all teenagers, the decisions are bigger, the amounts greater and their will power much stronger. In this case, it’s the $1000 iPhone X that is being considered.
All four of them have been responsible for grocery budgets, discussed our family budget and are also very aware of the financial straits I have gotten us into. I would say they are just about the most financially aware kids I have ever known, certainly more knowledgeable then I was at their age.
A Little History
Gymnast is my most money conscious kid. By that I mean he is very aware of how tight money is, but he is also very materialistic. Much moreso than any of my others are or have been. That combination has been hard on him.
As I have gotten more determined with my money choices and thus a lot less generous in some areas, he has struggled. Yes, I know I set myself up for this, but I cannot change the past.
With that being understood, his phone is broken, destroyed and has been for about 3 weeks now. And his 13th birthday was yesterday.
Gymnast wants a iPhone X
Gymnast number one desire for the last year or so has been to get a iPhone X…yes, those $1000 phones. Needless to say, he has constantly heard a resounding NO!
But with his birthday and the broken phone…well, his top request iPhone X. He asked for money towards his new phone from everyone.
I mean, this kid has spent hours researching different phones, he can speak intelligently about all the different features and compare any number of phones off the top of his head. This side of his desire has really made me proud. He has really done his research.
For his birthday, he received $582 towards a new phone…$50 of that is from me. All the rest of this money is from family.
In order to get a new phone, he had to agree to pay $100 of that for the broken phone (just a year old phone.) He also had $34 in his personal checking account.
Gymnast now has $516 to spend. And when we got online to check with Verizon, he can now get his year long dream phone for $549+tax. Can you imagine his reaction?
How to Guide Children on Big Money Decisions
My first thought was “Yikes, that is a lot of money for a 13 year old to have to spend.”
While I make them all save 50% of money they earn, I do not do that with birthday money. He is left with complete control over how to spend the money.
Money conversations are different with every child. For some I appeal to their logic, others their emotion and sometimes nothing I say works.
A Different Approach
This time, I decided to try a different approach.
- Just the facts
Knowing that he was going to get a lot of money for his birthday, I sat him down ahead of time and discussed the phone situation. I laid out all the facts – paying for his broken phone, keeping the same number vs getting a new number and monthly bills.
The most important part of this conversation was timing. We did it at a time and place when a purchase was not an option, so there was no drive, just facts.
- All the options
We discussed the option to get a pre-paid phone, upgrade with our current provider and even waiting for the next phone versions to be released (since latest and greatest is something very important to him.)
Again, we had this conversation when their was no temptation.
- Now to wait
Gymnast is spending the rest of the month in TX with his grandparents. I told him he could make a decision about the phone the week before he returns home. That is going to give him just at 3 weeks to make a decision.
He is hoping to earn some money while he is in TX because he knows he is short money to get his dream phone especially when he considers the cost of a case and taxes. And he is will aware that I am not contributing any more money.
Wheels are Spinning
In just 24 hours, I can already see his mind assimilating all the facts and weighing his options. The forced “wait” is already working. He asked that I log him on so he can see the prices of the different phones. (He’s already decided that keeping his same number and upgrading with our current provider is the way he wants to go, now he just has to choose a phone.)
Last night, from his corner of the couch you could here him muttering to himself:
- If I get the same phone I had, it’s only 99 cents.
- I could get an iPhone 8 for half of my money.
- Mom needs a new phone too.
- But I really want an iPhone X.
He’s also been told, since returning from camp, that if he wants to return to camp, he will have to provide 1/2 of the money.
I have no idea what he will choose. But from hear on out, I will only answer questions he asks and support his decision. I feel like I’ve done my part in laying out all the facts for him. I will keep you posted on what he decides.