Monday, November 7, 2011

Bright idea in my usual dimness

From time to time, I come up with an idea that actually works.  This is one.

I was getting tired of the tons of papers and requests for buying things through the school when the Scholastic book order came in.  All those colourful books laid out for kids to pick leads to long discussions of choices and questions on whether they really do want a series on slime on their bookshelves or do you actually need another formula Daisy Meadows Fairy book?  Still, books are awesome and I love my kids reading. 

Crappy photo of our the book budget.

So, we've made a yearly book budget.  For each kid there is a $10 per month budget until June for a $90 total.  They can spend it all now, later, or spread it out.  They can choose Scholastic books or choose to buy things from other book stores.  Amazingly, it is working! 

Laura loves shopping and will usually buy things without hesitation if she thinks she may want it.  At first she was pushing her credit to the limit, overwhelmed by all the possibilities out there.  However, seeing her declining balance has made her more choosy.  She can get what she wants and is more aware of limits.  Having the budget just for books narrows what she has to choose from to a category.  This keeps her from being overwhelmed and there are no more arguments about it.  Win-win.

Owen spent his first book money yesterday.  He is my natural-born miser and really has to be encouraged to spend what is his.  He sees that the money is there and it his for the spending without it digging in to his personal stash.  The system is working for him.

The kids are also aware that some things are more worth investing in than others.  Books that they will devour cover-to-cover or use as an ongoing reference are great to keep.  If the book looks "cheap", too expensive, only mildly interesting or you just aren't sure - you make give it a pass.  They have other options too.  We go to the library weekly so there are tons of choices there too for books they may not want to buy.  Christmas lists can be made for some of the other books they like. 

It's nice to think that things sometimes work out even better than you plan.  Now all I have to do is trick myself into budgeting properly on my own impulse purchases.  Maybe the kids can give me a hand.


  1. STAGGERED by your brilliance. And oh god, spare me from another Whoever the Whatever Freaking Fairy book.

  2. Brilliant! I love it. I must implement this with my kids.

  3. I love this idea, but I fear I'm far to undisciplined to manage to do the same. Besides, now that I don't read very much myself, I live vicariously through my children by buying them mounds of books.

    You know, I probably should be budgeting...

  4. This is a fantastic idea! What we have been doing with Scholastic is offering them $10 a month, then if they want to spend more they dip into their own stash from birthdays and Christmases past. But I like your idea better because I think it helps them budget better, weighing now versus later, and I like that they can shop elsewhere if need be. I'm going to try it!

  5. Wonderful - I buy way too many books for my kids (is there such a thing as too many....Yes - I'm trying to convince them not to live like me, dragging thousands of books with them everywhere they go).lol

    Having mixed thoughts about Scholastic these days - so many of their offers tend to be cruddy books (yes, like that fairy one, or movie tie-ins, etc). Our rule is I only buy good books, but sometimes that can be quite a debate.

  6. this is great. i've been trying to figure out how to teach budgeting to the jb. i know he is still little, but he is all about spending. the minute he has a quarter he just wants to get something. that's definitely a hubby gene, since i am an olympic class miser