Poll the Parents I: The big-ticket takedown

Beth Kobliner’s first-ever Poll the Parents was conducted last week, and while most respondents on social media had the right idea, the results were more varied than expected.

The subject? Spending:

Q: What do you do if your kid wants to make a big, expensive purchase? (E.g., new phone, video game, Shopkins bonanza.)

  • A) Tell her to save up her pocket money.
  • B) Ask if she NEEDS it.
  • C) Say it’s too expensive.
  • D) Buy it right away.

The answers by no means cover all the possible parenting responses, and some of you suggested that a combination of tactics is the best course of action. Others wondered what the heck a Shopkin is. (If you have to ask . . .) Before we get into the details, though, here are the results.

  • 59% — A) Tell her to save up her pocket money.
  • 28% — B) Ask if she NEEDS it.
  • 8% — C) Say it’s too expensive.
  • 5% — D) Buy it right away.

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First, hats off to the 5% of parents who answered D, saying they’d buy whatever their kid wanted without hesitation. Just plunk down the plastic and move on. Honesty is so hard to come by these days.

Some quick advice for the 8% of you who chose C Say it’s too expensive. A kid will quickly get wise to the parent who dismisses the kid’s checkout-line request for and then gives the cashier $100 moments later. So rather than reflexively tell your kid that her dream item is out of your price range, it’s smarter to offer some straight talk. Say: “No, I don’t think we need to spend money on that now,” and give your reasons why that’s so.

As nearly a third of you suggested by selecting B, it’s good for kids to ask themselves some questions before the purchase: “Do I need it?” If the answer is no, the item is a “want.” And the follow-up question is: “Do I love it?”

And as for the majority of you? You chose A Save up, kid! And you’re right on the money. It’s tempting to think of high-dollar temptations as a reason to question your parenting skills. (“Have I raised a greedy, consumerist monster!?”) In fact, they’re excellent opportunities to teach your kid about how to be a smart shopper.

Planning and saving are crucial skills a kid must learn to be financially responsible later in life. And if she has a little skin in the game, she may think harder about just how important that Shopkins Happy Places Happy House is to her personal well-being.

Look for the next Poll the Parents soon. In the meantime, for more superfun ways to teach financial facts of life to your little ones, check out Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not).

Favorite comment: “& B. I talk to my son about needs and wants. If after thinking about it for a while he still wants it, then he finds jobs to do to pay for it himself. Work ethic is very important to teach and learn at a young age.”

Most heart-rending comment: “My mom will always be a D & it’s creating havoc w/ my daughter. She has no gratitude left for the things she’s given. So frustrating!” Your pain: felt. Grandparents cannot be controlled.

Funniest comment: *sad face emoji*