A Nine Year Old’s Financial Breakthrough

My first born turned nine yesterday. (When he was little, we had him fully convinced that the fireworks were a special treat for his birthday.)

My oldest son is many wonderful things. Planful and deliberate, however, are not two of them. Like his mama, he dives right in to new endeavors… and also like me, he often peters out, just as it starts to get interesting/hard. (My husband said to me about KOAB when I was debating whether or not to start this blog, “Go for it! But please, stick with it.”)

Training a mind like his to save for the future is not going to be easy.

But yesterday, we made a breakthrough.

His grandparents had given him $50 to spend for his birthday. He and my husband had talked and my son (whom I’ll refer to as A) had decided that he wanted to get an All Star Game jersey.

Let me tell you, A has a LOT of sports paraphanalia. A loves sports. My husband loves sports. My father loves sports. Jerseys and baseball caps, balls and posters – these are not in short order in my home. And don’t even get me started on the thousands of baseball cards in giant plastic tubs.

So, when I heard that he was planning to blow spend his $50 on an All Star Jersey, I had to put my foot down.

“You do not need another jersey. Not even an All Star one. $50 is a lot of money, A. You will outgrow that jersey in a few months. Then what are you going to do?”

“I’ll hang it on my wall,” he answered.

Hahahaha – as if.

“No,” I told him, “This is ‘your’ money, but I’m your mom. And I’m telling you, you need to put this $50 toward something of value. Something of substance. Something you really want.”

He thought for a minute.

“But I really want a jersey.”

“No, you don’t. You want it right now. You won’t care about it in a little while. Trust me. And besides, you just got a new Kansas City jersey for your birthday from Poppy. So, think. What do you really want?”

He continued to ponder in the back of the minivan. Finally, I suggested, “What about a DSI?”

(A has asked for a Nintendo DSI on several occasions, and each time we told him that $150+ was way more money than Mommy and Daddy were going to spend on a game system. Not to mention, he already has a Leapster Explorer – “That’s for babies, Mom.”)

His face lit up at the thought of a DSI.

Earlier in the day, I had shared with him the ING Kids’ Savings Account that I’d opened for him. We had put in $9 (happy 9th birthday), and he “earned” the $17.76 bonus from ING. Adding in the $50 from his grandparents, he’s already more than half-way to a DSI (which – yay! – dropped its MSRP just last month to $130).

“I get $9 a month for allowance, so I could save all of that,” he added, the wheels already starting to turn.

“And can I do extra chores for money?”

(Sure you can!)

“Maybe in the winter time, I can go around to the neighbors and offer to shovel their driveways? And I can rake leaves for people in the fall, too, right? Oh… I can make a lemonade stand next week. Would you help me?”

(You betcha!)

I love to see those entrepreneurial wheels turning! Having a short-term goal is so motivating – especially for a nine year old!

Maybe one day, when A isn’t buried in consumer debt like his mom and dad were, he’ll look back and thank us for teaching him to value working and saving for something.

(Even if it is just an over-priced game system.)


  1. I think we give our kids the exact same amount of allowance (their age once a month). I like when my boys save to buy an item but I really love when they save together to buy an item. This is how they bought and shared their DS and xBox.

  2. My daughter was 9 yesterday also! When she was born her older sister called her ” Miss America” and she knows that all of the USA celebrates her birthday! 🙂

  3. Jennifer says

    Send him over, I’ll pay him to rake leaves!

  4. Isn’t it great when the value of a dollar clicks. We have the discussion with our 5 year old quite frequently about making choices, and that we have to save for the things we want. When she helps out she gets pennies for her bank, half of which she can save for something, and half of which is designated for tzedakah. We do the same thing with our 3 year old too, but she doesn’t really understand it yet 🙂

  5. I would like to hire A to come play with my kids. Could you send him by? LOVE YOU. 🙂

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