If we could bottle the charm of an eight year old girl we could have every nation in the world at our doorstep.
Like any good parent I want my children to be able to handle the money God gives them. I used Dave Ramsey's suggestions about saving for their first car and decided to apply it to bicycles. I thought that if I could get them to save up half the money for a new bike and then match their half, then later on they would understand the concept of saving up for a car.
I tried it with my son, and it didn't seem to be working. The bike he wanted was priced around $300. I don't know if he felt overwhelmed or just didn't catch the vision, but it took him several years to save up the money.
Since all of my children are too young to get a job, I knew I would need to offer opportunities to make money. I made up lists of things they could do to clean various rooms of the house and assigned dollar amounts to them. I offered to pay $1 for doing a load of laundry on their own, without prompting from me.
Frenchie's and she found a bike that was priced around $100. Unlike her brother, Hannah was motivated.
As an example, one day I told all three of the older kids that I would pay them $5/bag for cleaning up hedge clippings. They had to completely fill a black landscaping bag. My son didn't bother to try. My older daughter filled one bag and then gave up. Hannah filled about four bags and would have filled more if there had been more clippings to clean up.
Within three months she had saved up her $50. Unlike her siblings, she was motivated to earn. I kept my end of the bargain and paid the remaining amount. As a reward for her hard work I even paid for a little bell to be put on the bike. The bell broke that afternoon when she wiped out for the first time.
Fast forward two years. She's eight now, and I noticed the other day that her legs are getting too long for her old bike. It's a great bike, very well made, but it is just too small for her. I suggested that she start saving up for a new one.
I knew how hard she had worked to save $50 the first time around. I knew the bigger bikes cost more money. I didn't want her to be frustrated because she would have to save up a lot longer. I prayed and asked God to take care of the situation. If she needed to build the character to understand that replacing old things is a fact of life, then that would be up to God. If He wanted to reward her diligence then He could provide the right bike for less money.
Hannah's birthday was last week. She told a few people that she was saving up for a bike and would appreciate money instead of normal gifts. Among her friends, her grandparents, and a wonderful lady at our church she made about $38.
Frenchie's to price out her new bike. This way she would have a goal, rather than just being ambiguous. We decided to take a look at some used bikes this time, since I knew it would be a bit cheaper that way. She singled one out and asked one of the clerks how much it would cost. I was surprised when he asked her how much money she had. She proudly pulled her money out of her wallet. $38 plus one gold dollar coin. The man told her to save her gold coin for a rainy day.
I knew she would need a bit more than $38 to buy a bike so I pulled five $1's out of my wallet to add to her stash with the intention of paying the difference regardless. She walked with the clerk to the cash register and to my surprise returned a moment later with three $1's to give back to me. The clerk had charged her $40 even.
I told him how thankful I was, and how I our family had already bought three bikes there and would definitely be back the next time we needed one. He told Hannah that if any thing went wrong or got broken she could bring it back and they would fix it. Hannah mentioned that she had a bell on her old bike that was broken. As if giving her a bike for $40 wasn't enough, he went in the back and found a bell to put on the handle bars.
Oh, and among the used bikes I found this beauty... I guess it's time for Mama to save up for a new bike. ;)