Money Camp and My New Table

It’s funny how some things just work out and you’re not even aware that it’s happening.  That’s the way it was with my new kitchen table and teaching lessons in my money management class.

It wasn’t even supposed to be my new kitchen table.  It was supposed to be my new office desk.   Desk-hunting one Sunday afternoon, John and I ended up at Crate and Barrel.  While browsing for office furniture we happened by an awesome kitchen table, the kind you might find in an old farm house.  And although I knew I wasn’t supposed to stop and admire it, I did anyway.  That’s when the sales clerk stopped by and asked if I wanted the information sheet for the table.  Oh, and was I aware, she asked, that there would be a store-wide sale on floor items beginning Friday morning?  ‘Sale’ is one of my favorite words. 

The next day I began my week-long money management class for 8-12 year olds.  We discussed the language of money, needs vs. wants, passive vs. active income, ways to invest, money game plans, ways to earn money, budgeting…and on and on.   I find that kids ask great questions so we went off on tangents as I tried to relate some of the concepts and ideas to the lives of pre-teens.   I learned a long time ago that it’s easier to learn something new if you can attach it to something that’s relevant to your life.

On Day 4 of camp we talk about ways of being a good consumer.  As kids were sharing some of their ideas, it occurred to me that I had the perfect real-life, going-on-as-we-speak example.  I pulled out from my purse the Crate and Barrel information sheet and shared my kitchen table need with the class.  After finally admitting that it was, indeed, a want since I already had a kitchen table (darn those kids), I explained that I was willing to wait for the table to go on sale before buying it.  In fact, I once waited 6 months for a small hallway table to go on sale.  Being patient is a good money management skill and a sign of a good consumer.

The next day was Day 5, the last day of camp, as well as the first day the floor models were to go on sale.  Now, I had no idea if the table was slated to be one of those items on sale, but I was hopeful.

The kids knew that I was going to call our break at 10a.m. because that’s when Crate and Barrel opened.  As the kids were munching on their snacks I made the call.  It must have been my lucky day because the table was, indeed, on sale…and for 50% off!  A few minutes later when I had given my credit card information (credit cards, Day 2, always pay them off), I was the proud owner of a brand new kitchen table.

What a perfect real, hands-on and totally unexpected example of how being a good consumer can pay off.  I loved that the kids could see a money decision in action.  And really, kids can take all the money camps they want (and I hope they do!) but the most powerful way to learn is by the example of the adults around them.

I love my new kitchen table.  But now I don’t have an office desk.  And that’s Day 1, opportunity cost!

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