Wendy and I have been implementing a 'teach good money habits' strategy with Elli. She is getting an allowance of 1 dollar a week and is allowed to spend her money on whatever random junk she wants. While she has actually made a number of good purchases (for a 4 year old, anyhow) it is mostly through random luck because Elli seems to have a nasty case of 'money on fire' disease. This disease is noted mostly for the desperate lunacy that its sufferers go through whenever they realize they have money and their frantic attempts to rid themselves of it in any way possible. It is a strange and challenging thing for me to watch because even as a pretty young kid I saved and hoarded and carefully shepherded what money came into my possession; I was quite the pennypincher then and still am. I recognize that lots of people enjoy shopping and going out with the idea of trying to find something nice to buy but Elli seems to have it differently. She isn't so much wanting to find something nice to buy as wanting desperately to get rid of her money.
"Can we buy this Daddy?"
"No Elli, you have 3 dollars and that costs 8 dollars."
"How about this?"
"That costs 10 dollars and you only have 3 dollars. This store doesn't sell anything for 3 dollars or less Elli, you can't buy anything here."
"Can I buy this Daddy?"
"... Elli, that costs 7 dollars and I say again that this store has *nothing* in it that you can buy. You need to save up your money for another week or two and then you will be able to buy something."
"But I want to buy something! Can I buy this?"
Every one of these requests came right on the heels of the last and was punctuated by Elli picking up an object totally at random and shoving it towards me with desperation on her face. Earrings, noise making gizmos, plush animals and pens all made it into the rotation ... despite the fact that we were in what is ostensibly a book store. The thing that I just can't sort out is that she wasn't particularly interested in any item in particular but was simply desperate to leave the store with all her money spent. She doesn't do this every time, but it invariably starts as soon as money comes up or anything causes her to recall that she has a few dollars in her jar and that it could in fact be spent on something.
I don't know if this is something that will continue. I know I have been fairly consistent throughout my life (my parents might disagree?) and I really do hope that that doesn't hold true for her. The ability to delay gratification is hugely impactful in long term happiness and stability so I intend to try to instill that ability in her if I can. Who knows if that is the sort of thing I have any say over though...