As a credit counsellor for 36 years, not only do I hear financial success stories from clients but I hear them from friends and neighbours as well.
Years ago, my neighbour Kelly told me how she had “accidently” taught her young daughter the value of money. One day, Melissa went to Kelly and announced that she was now 8 years old but she was riding a six-year old’s bike; she wanted a new one. Kelly suggested that maybe she should help to pay for the bike and Melissa’s response was “Mummy, I don’t have a job like you do”. “But you do get money from your Grandma, Grandpa and aunts when you see them so you could use that money”. They looked in Melissa’s coat pockets, her little purses and her piggy bank and they found $48 in loonies and toonies. Melissa was so excited she wanted to go to Canadian Tire right away to get the bike. Kelly and Melissa went shopping later that day and after looking at many different bikes, they found a bike perfect for a growing 8- year old. Melissa proudly handed her $48 to the cashier and her Mum paid the difference. Kelly said the cashier had a huge smile on her face as Melissa left the store with her brand new bike.
Melissa was thrilled with her bike. One day she was riding down our street and a neighbour, Mrs. Murphy, commented on her shiny new bike. Melissa got off her bike, carefully put it on the kickstand and proudly replied that the bike was “half mine” because she had paid for half of the bike with her very own money. Mrs. Murphy congratulated her and then asked if Melissa’s friend Kyle liked her new bike. With her hands on her hips, she said that she didn’t let Kyle ride her bike anymore because the first time he rode it, he let it drop to the ground when he was finished. Over time, Kelly heard from other neighbours that Melissa had told them the bike was “half mine”.
When Melissa told her grandfather what she had done, he gave her $10 to put away for her next big purchase. Melissa put it in her piggy bank and when she got other money from family, etc. it went straight in her piggy bank as well.
Kelly said Melissa treated that bike with respect until the day it was passed down to her cousin with strict instructions on how to care for it. Kelly doesn’t know why she suggested to Melissa that she could put money towards the bike, but she is glad she did. She says Melissa got an early lesson in financial responsibility and the pride of ownership.
It is never too early to teach financial responsibility to our kids. I still remember the pride I felt when I paid for my first clothing item – a maxi coat. My brother got tired of me telling people that I had paid for it myself.
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