I was thinking about the dilemmas facing kids who get cash for Christmas presents. Of course it’s a good problem to have, and childhood problems are so silly compared to grown-up problems (except for when certain unnamed girls used to make fun of me in the schoolyard – that pain was real).
Anyway! Kids getting cash for Christmas… I wonder if kids are still burning Christmas cash on toys and candy, or more likely these days, apps? I remember being really blown away that family members sent me Christmas gifts. And usually it was written or at least implied that I was to get myself something fun because the family member was too far away or did not know what I would like. And pretty much most of the time I did that, to respect their wishes.
But when I was a kid, my life revolved around Nancy Drew books and going to the pool. And let’s face it: mostly pool. There weren’t all kinds of things that I wanted, and my parents bought my clothes. There were no apps to buy from the app store.
I think I fully learned about “saving” (real saving, not just saving up for a bigger toy) when I was 9 or 10. But savings account interest rates depressed me (in the 90s no less). And back then, there was no internet where you could go look at your money and visualize it. I was pretty sure I would have to get my parents to take me to the bank to see where my money went, and that seemed like an unlikely scenario. Especially when the South Florida weather was perfect as usual and the pool was waiting for me.
So between the boringness of banks (not to mention influences like the bank scene from Mary Poppins) and relatives asking me to spend the money on toys, very little of it got saved. I want to teach my kids some day that it is ok to save money, even as a child. And I would hope that if I give a gift of cash to a small child in my family, the child would not feel pressured to buy a toy (but if she just wanted to, that would be ok).
I’m still glad that I did what my family members wanted, and it gave us something to talk about on the phone. I don’t think they would have wanted to hear that I identified a high-yield savings account, and would move on to index funds when I had amassed $3000. But, it would would totally amuse me if my own future child said that!