Grace, family values, family meetings, and saving....

Grace - doll of the year

Since August or so, Andie has been wanting/obsessing over this ridiculously over-priced American Girl Doll, Grace.   She has carried around the catalog with photos of her and the other dolls for months, longing after this doll.   Meanwhile, she has only saved enough money to pay for 1/8 of her so far.   How has she saved?

Around August Warren and I read two books, or really just read one (The Secrets of Happy Families)  and went to 15 minutes of a book club about the other (The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising kids who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart about Money) and took what we could from both of them.  The Secrets of Happy Families convinced us to have weekly family meetings and to come up with a mission statement and list of values for our family.  We've been great about the family meetings.  Each week we discuss the previous week's highs and lows and what goals we have for the next week.  The kids love it.   We've been bad about making a mission statement and list of values.  Just this Sunday we decided to have the kids brainstorm what they think our the Passin families most important values.  It was fascinating and reassuring to hear what initially rolled off their tongues.  Zoë said that our biggest value is to take care of each other as a family and Andie said that we most value kindness and helping others.  Awesome!  So glad they get that without us listing it out.  We brainstormed a lot more and will settle on our top ten next family meeting.  We will then list these in our kitchen and refer back to them as needed.   ("Is hitting your sister part of our family values?"), etc.

The other book gave us a lot of ideas about allowance.  I actually just copied what Wendy does and started giving our girls a weekly allowance based on their age.  ($3.60 weekly for Andie and $3.00 weekly for Zoë).    1/3 of their allowance goes into giving (to a charity they decide upon), 1/3 to spending, and 1/3 to saving towards something that Warren and I approve of.  We found these awesome Moon Jars to help them divide and keep track of their money.  As they get older, they will start having responsibilities with their money (for example, buying school lunch once a month, or buying their clothes or paying for a phone, etc.).   For now, they are just learning to manage their money.

Both Andie and Zoë have decided to save for American Girl dolls.  They both already have two that their grandparents have given them and I refuse to spend the money on another doll.   While I refuse to buy it, I can approve of them saving for it.   On boxing day Andie is lovingly looking at Grace's picture and then realizes..."Oh no!!! Oh no!!! Grace is the girl of the year and that means after January 31 they will no longer make Grace!"   She literally cried for 2 hours.   She was a wreck.   I was a softie and talked to Warren about extending a loan to Andie (typical American way to pay for it on credit!).   We explained a loan to her and Warren explained the interest he would charge.   We came up with a payment plan and told her it was her choice.  She had three days to decide.   Oh my goodness....the torment in those three days. She was back and forth.  She cried.  She worried.  She couldn't sleep.  We both advised her against the loan (and so did everyone else she asked advice from) but she really wanted Grace.  I was impressed that she didn't just jump into the loan without thinking it through.  I was a bit worried she would take the loan and it would be a very long year for us refusing to buy anything else for her, but it would be a very long, hard lesson for her about living life on credit...(I wasn't sure if a seven year old was ready for that lesson but we were already in deep).

Finally, on December 30 she told us she decided against the loan.  She said that she may regret it if she chose the loan and who knows if she would change her she decided to save her money for another American Girl Doll.   We both beamed with pride.  Happy ending....and it so could have gone the other way!