Reading through the email, I had a difficult decision to make. Not showing it to my son would save him some disappointment, but making him aware of it could be an invaluable financial lesson.
My son is saving his money to buy a new monitor for his gaming computer, but is currently getting by with an old monitor that we had sitting around. He’s shopped around and determined that $200 is about how much he’d have to spend to get a monitor with the features he’s looking for.
The email I received was from a popular online computer parts retailer. They were advertising a 23-inch high definition monitor, which regularly sold for $199, on sale for $139. Even better, after a $20 mail-in rebate, the final price of the monitor would be $119.
The problem? He didn’t have enough funds to take advantage of a great sale.
He did have $80, but he could’ve had more if he’d made different choices with his money over the last two months. I specifically remember him buying an online game for $30, as well as a new music album through iTunes within the last week.
I came up with three options for what I could do next:
1. Ignore the email
He doesn’t have enough money to purchase the monitor even at the sale price, so part of me wondered what the point would be of showing him at all. I could just wait until he’d saved up more money, and then alert him to any deals that show up in my inbox.
2. Loan him the money
It’s a great deal, and I could just loan him the money he needs to buy the monitor. Then he could pay me back over the next month or so. While this would enable him to get the monitor at a low price, I don’t like the message this sends to him about instant gratification. Not to mention, I’d essentially be teaching him to use credit to buy something when you don’t have enough money.
3. Show him the email
Lastly, I could show him the email. This would make him aware of the great sale he has to pass on because he prioritized other things over saving for his monitor. I don’t want to rub it in, and I’m not trying to tell him he can’t buy other things with his money. I want to make this a lesson because he specifically told me that he wanted to stop spending money on other things and concentrate on saving for his monitor — but then took actions contrary to his goal.
I went with choice number three. He did seem mildly disappointed that he could’ve gotten his monitor much cheaper. But he took responsibility for the choices he made, and simply told me to remind him of this sale whenever he wanted to spend his allowance on something else. In the end, he may end up paying full price for his monitor, or another great sale may come along.
In either case, I think the lesson he learned was well worth it.
Have you ever missed a great sale because you didn’t have enough funds available? Which course of action would YOU have taken if this were your child?