I try to answer all my son’s questions honestly, no matter his age or the subject matter. Of course, he has rarely fully comprehended the full explanations of the questions he asks, he can get pretty into it though. I promise he won’t ask me how wind turbines work again when he’s stuck on a roadtrip with me for a few hours…
I take this same view on financial education with him. And a great example came up the other day:
He wanted a new toy. (Sidenote: if you get sucked into Disney Infinity, Skylanders, etc., you’ll have fun, but your wallet might not.) So he wanted a new figure when we were out running some errands. He had some money I told him he could spend while we were out, and that’s what he chose. He has a piggy bank for birthday money, and gets to return the cans and bottles for some extra cash. I pay for whatever it is in store (he doesn’t have any good mileage cards yet, since he’s 6…) and he pays me back once we get home, it works out great! Plus, I obviously don’t keep the money, I just deposit it into his college savings (shhh don’t tell him!)
After looking at all the options on the big fancy display wall, he picked one for about $15. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool and all, but I took the opportunity to point at a smaller rack of used figures. I explained to him the price difference and that they will still work just as good, and he saw one that looked neat for only $3. After we did a little math to figure out how many more used figures he could get, how much he would save, etc. he picked the used figure for $3. Needless to say, I was proud/happy of him, and it got me thinking.
There are TONS of opportunities to teach kids about the used market for goods. Used video games. Used toys. Yard sales. Thrift stores.
I think most of our aversion to used things starts at a young age. Maybe it’s cultural..
“Ew, you can’t have something used, that’s gross!”
Maybe it’s media…
“Don’t you just LOVE that new car smell??”
Maybe it’s your family…
“If you clean your room, we’ll go to the store and pick out a new toy!”
But if you ever do some research, there’s a lot of great things out there on the used market. Obviously there’s the big ones, craigslist, ebay, and plenty of others. But I encourage you to look around online, at thrift stores, and get creative too!
I just picked up some great rock climbing shoes at an REI garage sale for 1/3 the price of new. Get this, the shoes had only been used once, they were in mint condition!
Of course, you have to do your research, but there’s no reason why a house is the only thing you should buy “used.” Look around, your wallet will be happy you did!