"Dad, can I download this new game? It's ONLY $4.99."

February 12, 2016 | Sreeni Rao

Like most San Diego families, we have this conversation a lot. And with two young boys at home, my wife and I are asked twice as often! With the recurring theme of more must haves, we decided to tackle the money talk with our sons last year.

We started with basic terms like explaining what a bank or Credit Union is, the difference between checking and savings accounts and what a bill is and why you’d receive one. We then visited our local Mission Fed Branch and opened Savings Accounts for each of them with the chore money they had earned in the previous weeks.

Each month, we review their regular savings account statements together at the dinner table. By doing this, they’ve learned to pay attention to their balance and notice when their account grows with interest. Even at 11 and 9, they feel that making money on their money is exciting! It’s also helped them relate to family discussions, like why mom and dad work and how money is earned.

Wallet shopping and explaining why we carry a wallet has been another fun adventure. It’s helped to teach them the relevance of currency and the difference between money in the bank and money on their person. While they haven’t gotten to the place where they consistently carry their wallets, it’s been great observing them engage with cashiers and learning how to count change when they do.

Just the other day, my youngest son came to me and asked, “Dad, can I download this new game? It’s ONLY $4.99.” He has a flair for downplaying the cost of goods and services. “What’s the game?” I asked skeptically. “It’s this really fun game all my friends have,” he casually replied. He handed me the tablet and gave me a sweet look. I see my wife and his brother watching the situation unfold. She’s cautiously looking over my shoulder to see which game it is, and he’s optimistically waiting to see my reaction.

After reviewing the game for content appropriateness, I nodded and said, “Sure buddy, you can purchase it. But first, please go upstairs and get your wallet.” His facial expression turned from happy to surprise quickly. “Why do I need my wallet?” he asked quietly. He knew the direction this was going. “To pay me,” I answered. “You know the cost of the game will be charged to my credit card. If you want it, you’ll have to pay me cash for it now.”

The mood in the room changed considerably, and the desire to engage in e-commerce melted away. “Forget it. I don’t want it anymore.” He began walking away. I followed him. “Hey, wait a minute. What happened? I thought you really wanted this game?” He shrugged and said, “Well, I thought you were going to buy it for me. I don’t want to spend my money on that. I don’t need it, and I’d rather spend my money on something else.”

Right then, I knew what we had been teaching them was sinking in. In his not-so-subtle way, my 9-year-old son proved that he understood the difference between want and need—an important lesson we’ve discussed with him and his brother on several occasions. That day we all learned that money management is also about emotion and experience.

We’re glad we had the money talk with our sons and plan to continue expanding their financial vocabulary and experience as they grow older. It’s never too late to talk to your children and start putting an action plan together for financial education and readiness. They grow up in the blink of an eye, and it’s our job as parents to prepare them for life. With a little guidance and real world experience, they will learn to respect and value their money.

I didn’t buy the game for my son that evening, and I thought the matter was closed. The next day, he approached me and said, “Dad, I still want that game. Can you buy it for me if I get a good report card?” My initial reaction was to say no. Then I thought about how Mission Rewards Points work on Mission Fed Credit Cards. With that in mind, I added a tiered reward program topic to our dinner table conversation.

The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided. All accounts and loans are subject to approval.

Sreeni Rao

Sreeni Rao

Sreeni Rao is 1st VP Sales and Service for the Branch Network at Mission Federal Credit Union in San Diego, California. Sreeni provides direct leadership, coaching, and management to the dynamic sales teams in Mission Fed’s Branch Network and Business Development Department. His primary responsibility is to develop, direct and execute a retail sales and service strategy that meets and exceeds Mission Fed’s sales objectives and organizational goals.

More Blog Posts

The Importance of IT at Mission Fed

The security of a financial institution is paramount to the safety and security of your money. At...

Mission Fed is committed to keeping your personal information and your money secure. We use up-to-date security technologies to reduce financial fraud and deter identity theft. Our IT Department works continuously to make sure our banking technology and our institution...

Tips for saving for your retirement besides your 401(k)

When you have your retirement goals established, it’s much easier to put money away to achieve them...

Think out of the usual 401(k) box and expand your retirement savings by opening and IRA or certificate. Planning now for a great retirement can be as easy as setting aside extra unexpected funds and budgeting your regular expenses. A daily $5 latte costs $1,825 a year....

We put the "team" in "credit union"

Our employees must communicate well with and trust each other, as well as provide encouragement and...

From Little League baseball games to financial institutions, groups that use teamwork are going to be more successful than those who don’t. While it is true that there is no “I” in “team,” there are two in “credit union.” And, as Aesop said, “In union there is strength.”

How to live within your means

Use these money management best practices to help you put a lid on our spending and expenses.

We live in a consumer society where it is easy to find ourselves in unnecessary debt and living above our means. Use these money management best practices to help you put a lid on our spending and expenses.

Branch/ATM Locator

Search for Mission Fed Branches and ATMs, or 30,000 CO-OP Network ATMs Nationwide