Right about that age when my little ones began to beg for needlessly over-priced products with cartoon images on the front or endless advertising campaigns on their favorite channels, I realized I needed to teach them the value of money. That is when I began the Lunch Budget.
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It is really quite simple- as all truly great things are. I gave each child a budget with which to buy enough lunch ingredients for the week. I gave them suggestions and guidance, but the final decision was their own.
If they wanted the microwavable dinner with the cartoon character on the front, they might use up a considerable portion of their budget on that one meal, leaving very little for the rest of the week. They quickly learned that special meals were fine but required sacrifice on the other days.
As they brought me groceries, I would subtract them from their lunch budget and let them know how much money they had left. Many times they would change their minds and put things back when they realized how little they had left afterwards. They became very savvy shoppers really young.
What if they used it unwisely?
I made a point to always keep peanut butter, jelly, and bread on hand in case someone planned poorly. They knew they had a safety net, but they enjoyed the challenge. They enjoyed the power of choosing for themselves.
My oldest is now away at college on her own. She still uses so many of the lessons she learned then. She knows that she can have her special meals, her special purchases, but they require sacrifice and planning. She carefully evaluates how every penny is spent, and doesn’t take a single penny for granted. I am so proud of her, and I’m grateful that I was able to give her this gift.
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