I Need It!

Or is it – I WANT it? For many of us, spending is the fun part of having money. Sometimes we do a good job of making spending decisions and other times, we probably could do better.

Our kids are no different. It’s hard for them to understand what you’re talking about when you start sharing ideas about making decisions. But what they will catch on to is how you make your choices.

So – listen to yourself. How often do you say, “I need this _____” when really you are saying, “I want ________”? All of us have lots of needs and wants. And young kids are apt to think they need everything and want it right now.

Here are a couple simple definitions for needs and wants.

  • Want – something you wish for very much but could live without
  • Need – something you have to have to live every day

Usually kids (and us adults) have more wants than needs. Here are four questions I used with my daughters when they wanted to spend money.

  • Do I really want it?
  • But, do I really need it?
  • Can I get along without it?
  • How can I pay for it?

Try using these questions when you want to spend money. See if you’re spending your hard earned money on needs or wants. Remember, your child will learn the most by simply watching how you spend your money.

How are you teaching your child the difference between needs and wants?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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