Impulse Buying–Letting Our Kids Learn About Money By Making Mistakes

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This past weekend my son had to have a video game. All Sunday afternoon he kept clamoring for one of us to take him to EB Games. Eventually we gave in and off we went to the store with his hard earned money.

As fate would have it, the game he wanted was not in stock. But he needed his video game fix, so he did what I’m sure all of us have done from time to time–impulse buying. He picked a game that he had not planned on buying. What made the decision so important was that the store doesn’t allow returns. He knew that AND he knew it was an impulse purchase. We discussed it before he put down his money.

Now, we could have said no to the purchase and made him think about it for a day or two. But what would he have learned? His best chance at learning to handle money is to make mistakes now, when he’s young. A $20 mistake today may avoid a $20,000 mistake later in life. Sure enough, he later regretted the purchase.

The game turned out ok, but it wasn’t what he wanted. Now, he doesn’t have the money to buy the game he really wanted. He’s feeling the pain and making the best of the game he bought, but he wishes he had made a different choice. He even told us how hard it was for him to avoid impulse buying and asked us to help him avoid impulse buying in the future!

Now that’s a lesson well worth $20.

Published or Updated: March 15, 2014
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

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