I am a big believer in using everyday moments with our kids to teach them the basic concepts of financial literacy and money management. Making the connection between familiar events and abstract concepts creates a more meaningful, relevant understanding. I was lucky enough to have one of these moments recently with my 11 year old.
During the first week of middle school, he came home and announced that he wanted to play the tenor saxophone. Then he proceeds to ask if we would buy him one. (Important background info: we bought him a good quality, used Alto Sax two years ago. He really enjoys playing it, practices on his own and is in the school band this year.) He just wanted to try something new and didn’t consider the financial aspect of his request to buy another saxophone. He and I talked about the options:
- We could spend a few thousand dollars and buy him a new Tenor Sax. This wasn't going to happen.
- We could spend $300 - $400 to rent a Tenor Sax for the school year. I felt this was a bit much for a spur of the moment request.
- We could say "No." Initially, I did say "No". However, after about a week, he was still asking about this instrument. Perhaps this wasn't a passing fad or an instant gratification moment.
4. We looked into other options. I knew from prior experience that occasionally, the school will own instruments that are available for the use of the students. I emailed the band director and learned that there was indeed a tenor sax available. We could rent it for the entire school year for $25.
This final option fit within our existing band budget for the year and was able to allow our son to try out a new activity. Most importantly, he was able to be involved in a financial planning process that was meaningful and relevant to him. Time will only tell whether the Tenor Sax holds his interest. For the moment, we are all happy with the decision that was made. And...I haven't even needed to buy ear plugs!