A Penny Saved Is A Penny Spent On Nemo

There was a season in our lives where the big outings for our week consisted of driving 25 minutes to Target, grabbing a Starbucks latte in the entrance, and then wandering the aisles{primarily toy for Abigail to play in} for an hour or so before heading home.

I should probably say it’s totally as lame as it sounds, but that actually isn’t true.

It was super awesome.

But, then we sat down and had a grown up talk about finances and spread sheets and saving and I almost completely eliminated my Starbucks monthly allowance and did completely eliminate my Target budget. Which meant that our weekly outings came to an abrupt halt.

I still stop in periodically if there is something specific I am looking for and if it fits into one of our other budget categories for the month. Which, is precisely what happened last week.

I needed some rugs for our entry way that I had just updated{here} and had already checked Walmart and Goodwill for satisfactory ruggage. No such luck, so off to Target we went.

After I found my two rugs{sans latte- *pats self on back*} we headed over to the toy section for Abigail to look around for a bit. This is my basic rule about the toy aisle:

We never buy anything.

Got that?

Super easy. We never buy anything.

If Abigail sees something she likes we talk about how fun and neat that is but we aren’t buying anything today because we don’t need any new toys. But, if that is a toy she thinks she would still enjoy sometime in the future, she can add it to her birthday and/or Christmas wish list. Works for us!

But on this particular day, she spotted an enormous stuffed animal Nemo. And she LOVED him. Immediately loved him. And wanted to take him home. And was not remotely appeased at the idea of merely adding him to her Christmas wish list. I hadn’t ever seen her be quite so passionate about a toy before in this specific situation, but I stood my ground and told her he wasn’t coming home with us.

Fast forward to that evening, she is still talking about the Nemo{which funny, because she has never even seen Finding Nemo} she told Jim all about the Nemo and couldn’t seem to shake the idea of him. So, Daddy had the idea of letting Abigail buy it with her own money.

She has this piggy bank up on her shelf that has accumulated random change that she has found while we’re out and about or when grandparents come over and empty their pockets or other random things like that. We talk about her money quite a bit when she puts it in the piggy bank and I try to talk to her about money when we are out running errands.

Just simple statements like, “we don’t have money to buy that right now.” or, “we can’t buy everything we want, sometimes we have to save up and wait.” or, “that is not something we will spend our money on”  We also talk endlessly about the Presidents on all of the coins and bills. Their names, what number President they were, what they did, etc.

So anyway, we looked up how much this ginormous Nemo would cost her. 19.99. A huge amount of money. But, we told her we would count the money in her piggy bank and if she had enough to buy him she could if that is what she wanted. If she didn’t, she would just have to keep saving her money until she could afford it.

Well, turns out all those random coins add up{funny how that works, eh?} and she had $21 sitting in there.

After we pinned up her daily Elsa braid, we put all of her money in a baggie, and headed off to Target to buy BIG NEMO!

Truthfully, I was cringing inside at spending that much money on one stuffed animal. And I was cringing on watching her spend ALL of her money on one item. The whole way there I kept asking her if she was really sure this is what she wanted to spend her money on, if there was anything else she might want to buy or save up for instead, and on and on. But she was determined. That fish was coming home with her!

And really, I ended up deciding to let her go through with it mainly because I thought about how much she will learn if she decides sometime soon that she would like to buy something else and doesn’t have any more money to use. And how long it will take to save back up compared to how quickly it can be spent. I hate to think about the potential hurt that might cause at some point- that is, regret over a purchase- but sometimes I think those lessons stick with us a whole lot longer than purely positive ones!

Okay, so back to the fish.

She made a beeline for him, snatched him up, confirmed she wanted him, and off we went to the register!

I let her hand the cashier her bag of change and while the cashier handed her back Nemo I swiped my red card to save 5% and slipped the bag of change back into my purse 😉

The cashier handed her the receipt for her new toy and she carried both proudly out of the store like such a big girl.

So far there hasn’t been any buyer’s remorse. She knew exactly what she wanted to buy!
And it has been hilarious watching her sleep with that stuffed animal. It is bigger than she is when they’re laying in bed!
So funny. And now, she is starting to keep track of her nickels, dimes, and pennies again.
I wonder what she will choose to save up for next time?

How do you handle money with your kids? 


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  1. You are such an incredible Mom, Courtney!! I love that you're teaching her such valuable life lessons! She will remember this forever, and imagine how proud of her Nemo stuffy she's going to be…. especially after spending her life's savings (haha) on it!

    On a lighter note, we totally need to sit down and budget for this very reason, the starbucks runs and mall browsing totally adds up and there are things in our future we really need to save for…. Being an adult really sucks.

  2. What an awesome way to teach her how to save money! My sister does the same thing, and it really helps the kids to learn how rewarding it is to save up and buy stuff with your own money. It's so cute that she got so attached to the Nemo, too! You need to show her Finding Nemo now!

  3. First of all, you go girl! Self control in Target AND Starbucks is hard to come by… at least with me it is lol. I am impressed!
    Second, the lesson you taught her is amazing. I will have to remember this for future reference. Mason is only 2 but in a year or so, I think this would be a very good thing to teach him!

  4. This is a great post! I love that you were able to teach her about money this way. When did you start having her save coins in her piggy bank? I've been wanting to do something with a money lesson with Callie just not sure she's old enough. I mean sure she would get putting coins into a container but not sure she grasps what it's for! 🙂

  5. So smart! I think it is great you let her buy, and if she does end up regretting it I think it will be a much better lesson than anything you could tell her. Experiences are always better kept. I sure hope she just keeps on loving her big fish though ha =) I haven't thought too much about money with Aria, other than she has a college fund set up and a piggy bank where loose change goes.

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