Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What to do with Birthday Money

What my son's birthday money went toward: driving a taxi.
As my daughter’s birthday approaches, I have to be honest: I dread more stuff coming into our house.  It seems as if we finally picked up the wrapping paper from Christmas and her brother’s birthday.  But here we are: getting ready to bring in the loot.

Although there’s not much I can do about that (I do want my daughter to enjoy the gifts from her friends), I have decided that the cash she gets from relatives is not going toward more stuff!  So I’ve been brainstorming what to do with it (besides putting all of it in savings) and ways we've spent the money in the past. 

Classes: Since my kids don't yet know how much classes cost, I often say the money went toward a class they are currently taking.  Ballet/gymnastics/sports classes aren’t cheap.  I think it’s good for them to know that classes cost money and that Grandma is supporting their love of dance/soccer. Sometimes the class cost more than a $50 check, but that’s okay.

Rides I Normally Wouldn’t Spend Money On: My son loves the little train that travels around the mall, as well as play on those quarter-fed little vehicles at the mall.  On his last birthday, we put the money toward both of us riding the train.  We had a fun time waving to mall patrons.  I think he also realized that we won’t be riding the train every time we go to the mall—we were able to do it with his birthday money.  Although, to me, the ride is a waste of money, it’s a fun experience for him and there’s no take-way mess/clutter afterward (although he did play with that punched train ticket for days).

A Fun Day Together:  Although I can afford to take my children places like bowling or ice skating, it adds up.  By my children using their birthday money towards fun days out, I think they appreciate them a little more.  It’s also nice to be able to tell a relative that the money was spent on a family activity vs. another Barbie doll.

Food Related Fun:  My daughter loves to bake.  I think she would have fun buying supplies I’m to normally willing to buy: sprinkles, colored sugar, cupcake wrappers, you name it.  And I’d much prefer doing this than having a baking kit or Easy Bake Oven sitting around collecting dust.  What’s nice about creating with food is, when you’re done creating it, you eat it!  (See my post on this: Anti-Crafting: Crafts That Don’t Use Paper, Scissors, Glue, or Tape)

Seeds and Such:  It’s getting warmer, and my kids and I are excited to begin planting.  What fun it will be for them to pick out their own plants or seeds and pay the cashier with their own money.  This can also be a learning experience as to what else they’ll need: soil?  gardening gloves?  Do they have enough money? If not, what is the most important items they need/want? Can they share certain items?

I believe a whole roll of tape was
 used for these lovely stuffed animal garments.
Supplies They Borrow from You:  Anyone else out of tape every time you need it because your little one used it to wrap a gift for her stuffed possum?  Instead, I might have my daughter buy her own tape/Post-Its/whatever gets swiped from my desk for projects.  This may sound greedy, but I have a feeling that if my daughter paid for tape, she might conserve it a little more than when it seems there’s an endless supply.
Sharing the Wealth: I have two children.  They might (MIGHT) buy into getting something the two of them can both enjoy, such as treating their sibling to ice cream.  It's a win-win  It's worth a try.

(Please note that that my kids are still little pipsqueaks.  I don’t think they're quite ready to donate money to charity.  I’d rather wait until they truly understand the concept.  We do donate in their teachers’ names for the holidays/end of year).
If you look through my suggestions, you should note that almost all of these end up adding 0% clutter to the house and 100% happy children.

Do you have a good use of birthday money?