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What Do You Buy The Grandchild Who Has Everything?

By Sunie Levin
Resident Blogger  

Grandkids are great, but the problem is, they all have birthdays. Jared is going to be 16 in a few weeks. He is a great kid but spoiled rotten. He has a Nike wristband, iPod, Nintendo Wii, iPhone and every new game that is advertised. If there is a gadget, he’s already got it. Well almost. 

And now, here Jared is, at our house. He used to come to see Grandpa and Grandma, but now he rarely has time for us. However, his birthday is getting near. Can that have anything to do with his sudden re-appearance? How can I possibly think that way? In any event, he manages to drop into the conversation that iPhone 6 has replaced his obsolete 4. It has a much better camera and you don’t need a password anymore to get on the Internet – only your fingerprint. Wonderful. When I was his age, I could buy a decent almost-new car for what that iPhone 6 costs. 

Then there’s our 11 year old Megan. The one who can wrap me around her little finger, and knows it. She happily gives the latest news bulletin that she has just seen the cutest pair of sunglasses at the store and they are only $150. The problem is that there is only one pair left and she really wants them. 

Today, I’m babysitting 4 year old Tina at her house. She has lost one of the pieces for the puzzle so she can’t finish it. Instead of being upset, she asks if I would please buy her another one just like it with all the pieces. Now, I can’t really blame Tina. She’s only 4, and doesn’t have a clue about money. It isn’t that a new puzzle costs much money. It’s just that she already has the attitude that whatever she wants she should get. 

This isn’t another grumpy article about over-indulged, over-pampered kids these days. It’s about what to do when their expectations exceed your income level. They are used to nothing but the best and most expensive. The kids have come to expect whatever they want, they get. 

So, let’s get back to Jared. Muster up the courage to say “Jared, that iPhone 6 costs a lot of money and I can’t afford it right now. So I’ll make you a deal. I have some jobs that I have to pay other people you could take over, like washing the windows or my car. If you can find some other jobs in your neighborhood like feeding a dog while the neighbor is on vacation, or raking leaves. I’ll pay for half the iPhone 6. No fair getting the other half from your parents.” 

With Megan, simply tell her, “Megan, that’s a lot of money to spend for a pair of sunglasses. But, if you’ll do some babysitting and pay half it will count for your next birthday present.” 

In short, begin trying to teach them lessons that things aren’t there just because they want them, they need to be earned This may come as a shock, but it’s time they started learning. If you teach them basics of spending while they are still young, you’ll launch them into a lifetime of wise financial decisions. 

Sunie Levin of Overland Park holds degrees in psychology and education, has appeared on TV and radio and written several grandparenting books.

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