Earlier this week I went to an arcade with my nephew as a way to celebrate his birthday. As expected, he was given a bunch of tokens and quarters to play whatever he wants. He usually plays video games except they are in the form of gaming consoles or mobile devices. So it was interesting to see what I saw when he was playing the games at the arcade. A lot of the games he has never played before. For those that don’t know how arcade machines work you would essentially place in the machine like a quarter which then gives you one credit to play a game. If you lose or finish the game you then need to put in more money to continue if you wish.
So for some games he would put in a quarter just to lose fairly quickly and not think much of it. There were also some games where once he placed in a quarter and started to play he found that he didn’t like it much and just loss on purpose. Hence, he had no real desire to try and make the most out of his quarter as in his mind it was free money anyways. This mentality is a result of the home games he played I would imagine where you can always just lose on purpose or play as much as you want without fear that you have to pay more later.
The more I thought about it I think virtually almost everything I was ever given or had to spend money on as a child I recognized the monetary value of the items. Therefore, I wouldn’t take it for granted. Like with playing arcade games because getting an allowance means having a specific limited amount of funds I would try and do my best at playing these games to make the best of my quarter. I would actually get upset if I wasted it on something that I disliked or if the game finished quickly.
It wasn’t until near the end when my nephew realized he only had a few quarters/tokens left when he began to be more careful on how he spent his money. Kind of makes me think that the key to teaching people, especially kids, to be responsible with money is to actually teach them the value of it before even giving it to them. I think too often we tend to do things such as giving them a dollar to then go run off to buy whatever they want at the store. Instead, I think it would be wiser to actually walk around the store with them first as an example and teach them about prices and value.
You may think a child wouldn’t want to learn this, but from my experience even kids hate getting the “bad deal” or feeling “ripped off” once you teach them how much more they can get for a dollar. It makes them feel smarter too in a way when they walk out with the best deals. We do this all the time when it comes to things like teach a sport. Kind of funny why we don’t do it regularly when it comes to money and finance.