K just attended his graduation on 23 Nov. He has finished his primary education of 6 years.
Another milestone in life.
Come next year heâ€™s entering secondary school.
His class has proposed to make a T-shirt for the class. Instead of designing and printing t-shirts specifically for the class, as most people normally do, a classmate of K suggested to buy off the rack from Taobao a generic tee as their â€œclass tee.â€
A great shortcut to save time and the hassle of creating your own tee.
Thereâ€™s one hell of a discussion going on in the Whatsapp group about the class tee. And finally they decide to go ahead with the plan and start taking orders. About two thirds of the class raise their hands and agree to purchase.
K is interested. He asks me and my wife for opinions. I tell him itâ€™s your decision to make. And if you decide to buy, use your own money.
The money part delays his decision making process. He is stunned for three seconds. Now that he has to use his own money, he thinks long and hard about it whether he should proceed with the purchase.
Being an anti-consumerism nerd, of course I discourage him from buying.
On a few grounds:
1) the t-shirt has no specific significance of the class. Itâ€™s just a tee of generic design with a cartoon character.
2) they have not much opportunity to wear the tee together now that they have graduated and go to different schools.
3) not to mention the uncertainty of the quality of the fabric that we are not able to touch and feel before ordering.
Having said that, I pass the decision back to K. I let him decide. If he really likes the tee, I will not stop him from buying. Again, the condition is he has to fork out the money.
Being a smart boy, he tries to coax me into sponsoring some of the money. To which I declined politely.
In the end, after giving it much thought, K decides not to buy the t-shirt on his own willing.
I may look like a devil to you being so mean to K over just a stupid, cheapo t-shirt.
By making him to pay for the class tee, K has to think more seriously of the purchase as his money is at stake. By his own admission, if I were to pay for him, the decision would have been much easier and straightforward: a definite, resounding â€œYes!â€
I want him to learn how to allocate money for purchases. Everyone has financial limitations. We have to prioritise what we want to buy.
Is it worth it?
Do I really need it?
How often will I be wearing it?
Besides, I want him to make decisions responsibly. Also, to be able to be financially independent and never asks money from parents especially after he grows up.
You think K is still too young to learn all these?
I donâ€™t think so. Anytime is a good time. Itâ€™s much easier to teach when the child is young.
If you wait too long to teach, they will become habits. Once theyâ€™re molded, theyâ€™re hard to change. Why not teach him from day one the basic financial skills?
The lure of materialism is too great to resist. Just look a round. The recently passed Black Friday sale and Cyber Monday. They are everywhere. If youâ€™re not careful, your child will become one of the victims of consumerism.
Iâ€™d rather being a jerk right now than letting my child contribute to the statistics of consumer debts or worseâ€¦ bankruptcy when he’s an adult.
To smooth your ruffled feathers, I am NOT entirely a jerk. I only ask K to pay for stuff that is out of the necessity scope. Things that are nice to have but not required.
For more ideas on being a “jerk,” check out my book â€œThe Nonconformistâ€™s Guide to Parenting.â€