Making sense of dollars

I pulled up next to the For Sale sign and sighed.
I knew this because I’d looked it up on a real estate website earlier that week.
I gazed longingly at the home – eight bedrooms, indoor pool, right next to Master Seven’s school.
It was a house we didn’t need and couldn’t afford.
But I could dream.
“I’ve worked it out Mum,” Master Seven said, bumping me out of my reverie. “You and Learner Dad start saving as much money as you can and… [triumphant pause] I’ll give you all my pocket money so we can buy it.”
He gave me a look of grave sacrifice, a look that said: “You only ever had to ask Mum.”
Hmmm, I’d been trying to find something Master Seven could save for for ages.
The table in his bedroom was littered with crumpled five dollar notes and one and two dollar coins.
I wanted him to learn the value of money by wanting something.
And then saving for it.
It hadn’t happened yet.
Not because my boy doesn’t want anything.
But because he wants for nothing.
Let me explain.
Until now, anything he’s wanted, he’s got.
If not for a birthday, for Christmas.
If not for Christmas, then just because.
If not from us, from a grandparent.
If not from one of them, then from… no it’s usually either us or them.
I’m not complaining about this.
Really, I’m not.
It is just telling that the only thing Master Seven can think of to save for is a new house.
The concept of money is a tough one for kids these days.
“Just use Learner Dad’s card,” Master Seven answered recently when I told him we couldn’t afford a campervan.
“You know there’s a money limit on his card don’t you?” I asked in reply.
He frowned, not understanding why this card, which Learner Dad used to pay for most things, couldn’t buy us whatever we wanted.
“When does it run out? Before you get to forty dollars?” he asked, squinting at the campervan’s forty thousand dollar price tag.
Learner Dad always uses a credit card – not because he has a cash flow issue but because he likes earning points.
To Master Seven, Learner Dad can buy anything simply by popping that card into a machine and pressing a secret number.
Although he learned all about cash and coins at school last year, Master Seven was of a generation that’d be using them less and less.
It was important he learned the implications of using a bank card, whatever sort it was.
“Every dollar your dad spends with that card he has to pay back to the bank out of his money from work,” I said. “And if he doesn’t pay it in time, he has to pay extra.”
Although he seemed to eventually understand why we couldn’t buy that one bedroom home on wheels, it seemed Master Seven still thought we could easily pitch in for an eight-bedroom house with a swimming pool.
I guess I need to work a bit harder on my cash courses.


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