Teaching children how to manage their money wisely is an important, as well as challenging, part of parenting. You can't start too young, and you can't reinforce principles frequently enough. The material is often dry and frustrating, though, especially for young children. If you have children between 5 and 10 years old, Atlanta's comic con could provide a fun, if unexpected, environment for teaching basic budgeting.
The 3 Parts of a Comic Con
All comic cons have three main draws:
- panel discussions
- autograph sessions
Of these three activities, young children will be most interested in shopping. They'll find the panel discussions boring and long-winded, and they won't enjoy standing in line for an autograph. Perusing the various vendors' wares, however, can be done at their own pace, and there are lots of things to look at.
Expecting your children to not ask about buying something, therefore, is unrealistic. Instead of continually saying "no" all day to their requests, use this opportunity to help them learn about money.
The Rules for Shopping
You can help your children learn that money is a finite resource by giving them a pre-determined amount to spend at the event. The amount and where it came from is not as important as establishing how much they have to spend. They may walk into the comic con with $20 or $100, and it may come from their savings, you or Grandma. The most important part of this lesson is making sure they understand that the pre-determined amount is all the money they'll have to buy things with.
In addition to setting a specific amount they have to spend, there are two other rules you may want to consider. First, it's a good idea to look at every vendor's booth before making a purchase. This will help your children avoid the mistake of purchasing the first shiny thing they see and not being able to afford something they come across later in the day.
Second, your children should make the final decision on how they spend their money. You can make suggestions, but the final choice must be theirs. Otherwise, they won't learn the principles you're trying to instill. Although tears may follow a bad purchase for a short time, the lesson will last a lifetime. If you don't let them pick out what to buy, they'll blame you and not identify the consequences with their own actions.
As the day wears on, your children may become impatient and want to make a purchase before they've seen every vendors' wares. Young children, after all, have limited patience.
You can keep their spirits up and delay a meltdown in the middle of the day by getting free things from some of the booths. Andre Morales of MattersofGrey suggests going to the largest booths early in the day, as they're the most likely to have swag but may run out. He also notes, however, that booths will sometimes bring out new gear in the middle of the day.
As you walk around, ask the people at booths if they're giving anything away for free. Even a small item may excite young children and keep the day fun until it's finally time to make a purchase.
You might not have thought of Atlanta's comic con as a financial classroom, but it's a great place to teach your kids about money. Entrusting them with a few dollars to spend as they choose will make the experience that much more enjoyable for them, as they're able to act like an adult in the midst their favorite characters and stars.
For more information on Atlanta's comic con, go to sites like the one linked to here.