I am a natural saver most of the time. When I was little, I loved saving my money in a piggy bank. One time, my grandfather had given me a dollar. Since, it didn’t fit easily in the bank, I tore it into little tiny pieces so it would go down the hole. After my grandfather heard about that, he chuckled and always gave me silver dollars or fifty cent pieces, even when I was a teenager and obvioulsy wouldn’t have torn them up. It was a great private joke between us. Every time I see one of those coins now, I think of my grandpa.
My eleven-year old is definitely a saver, too. When he gets money, it stays with him for a good long time. He carefully deliberates about when to spend it and what to spend it on. He doesn’t just pinch his pennies, he grips them with a ferocity that a pair of pliers envies.
Up until about a year ago, my nine-year-old was the exact opposite; the moment money got into her hands, she had to spend it. It didn’t really matter on what. She just wanted to go shopping and burn through it; the quicker, the better. She has grown up since then, though, and has hung onto her money quite well. She’s even talking about putting half of it into a savings account when Christmas is done.
But, one area that shows my kids’ true spender vs. saver natures is Halloween candy. “Halloween candy?” you say, “but it’s nearly Christmas!” Well, my daughter still has some candy left, but not much. She only has a little because she put it on top of the fridge, out of easy reach and out of sight so she would be able to save some. She knew her limitations and planned accordingly.
My son, on the other hand, must have the self-control of an alligator put into the cage of a bunch of fluffy little bunnies who decides to mother them rather than dine on them. He still has nearly all of his Halloween candy. And it’s in plain sight. Right on his floor, still in his grinning plastic orange jack-o-lantern.
About once a week I do him a great service. I go into his room and divest him of one piece of his horde. The smiling pumpkin mocks me: “What, you can’t pass by without sneaking a taste, but your son plays Legos right next to me every afternoon and never dips his hand in once?” At first, I just want to kick in those constantly smiling teeth. But then, I explain my side: “I’m doing him a favor. No one likes stale candy. I’m making sure the pieces he eats will all be fresh by thinning down the stash a little.” The pumpkin doesn’t say anything back, but I know he’ll be grateful. After all, when the stocking candy comes in a few weeks, the Halloween candy won’t look nearly as appetizing, and the poor pumpkin will be forgotten. I can’t have that. I’m far too compassionate. So, I simply sneak another piece and walk away, happy to be contributing to my son’s, and the jack-o-lantern’s contentment. It’s in my nature, really, as a “saver”.