Kids And Money: How Wii Can Help Teach Your Child To Save Money

Potential library of video games for loaning out. Photo by 55Laney69 on Flickr

Driving the kids to gymnastics the other day, I heard T ask his friend, “Cole, do you want to trade Wii games?” Instantly, the Mommy Radar went on full alert. Was my child about to learn a new way of saving money?

Our boys love Wii. If they had their way, they would play it non-stop. They don’t get their way. On school days, there’s no TV or Wii. Come the weekend, the first thing they ask as they bounce out of bed is “When can we play Wii?” That precious hour or so playing Wii on a weekend day is immensely important to them.

It’s also immensely expensive. The popular games are often $50 a piece. And this is after you’ve invested in the equipment. T and M each got a Wii game from their Aunt at Christmas to add to their growing library of game titles. But T was eager to get more.

A few weeks ago, we went to the toy store to get a new game. T knew exactly which one he wanted. When it wasn’t there, he quickly switched to another title, but I stopped him. “Don’t buy just any game. Let’s look elsewhere for the game you wanted.”

T was frustrated. He wanted a new game and he wanted it now. “If you spend your money on this game today, you won’t be able to afford the one you really want when we find it,” I pointed out. I wanted T to think about how he was spending his money.

Then I got inspired. “These games are expensive,” I said. “Your friends all have games too. Why don’t you swap games with each other? That way, you can all save money. You can lend each other your games and try them out. If you really, really like a game, then you could still buy it. Cade has this game. Maybe you could borrow it from him and lend him one of your games.”

No reaction. But here I was a few weeks later listening to him try to negotiate this very idea.

At first, Cole was confused. “Trade? You mean, like, forever?” he asked.

“Oh no,” said T. “We’d just borrow the games from each other for a little while and then give them back.”

Cole started listing his video game library. Unfortunately, he had pretty much the same set of titles as T and the only one which would have worked was deemed too precious. “Absolutely never, ever, ever will I give that away,” declared Cole.

I couldn’t resist jumping in at this point and suggested to T that he ask his other friends.

“Oh, I asked Cade and Zack at school today and they don’t want to do it.”

Wow, my little budding master recruiter had been on a mission today. The results were disappointing, but I was impressed with the effort.

I might try a behind-the-scenes approach with the other moms to see if I can help kick-start this program. I know we’d all appreciate saving the money and it’s a valuable lesson for the kids.

Meanwhile, T is saving hard to buy a Nintendo DS. He’s researching prices and holding back on other spending. I guess there’s a financial lesson coming up when he realizes that he needs to buy games for this too.

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