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Where one family tries to teach their child finances…


A few weeks ago, we decided that the daughter needs to learn about money. Her innocence in money matters was seriously worrying. She had no grasp of ground realities; that what we spent on a fancy meal, without batting an eyelid, could last some families a week.

She needs to learn the * value * of money, we told ourselves, and what better way, we thought, than send her now and then to do some fetching and carrying? We started with snacks for her short break.

‘Darling, here’s Rs.500. I don’t seem to have any change… run to the corner shop and buy some biscuits and yoghurts for your short-break for the week, will you?’ I said, and sent her on her way.

‘Bring back the change carefully!’ I shouted after her.

Half an hour later, she was back. With a small-ish bag.

‘Ohh, what’s in it’, I asked her.

‘A packet of cookies, two packets of yoghurt drinks, and a pack of digestives’, she said.

‘Great. Where’s the change?’ I asked, and she rolled a few coins on the table. ‘And the rest, darling? Notes?’

‘That’s all. These are imported’, she said and walked away.

The corner shop was fancy-pants, I realised, and I had effectively paid for the flight tickets of a packet of cookies and some yoghurt drinks.

And, the lessons were still not learnt.

So we changed tactics; we decided to give her a fixed amount of money, and manage within that. We figured music downloads would be a good place to start, and opened an account in Flipkart with Rs.200 and taught her how much cheaper it was to buy music as single tracks, as opposed to the hundreds of rupees it costs to buy actual cd’s of whole albums. We were delighted when it worked; she realised what a lot of money she was saving; she spoke about it endlessly; she told her friends they were wasting money, hard cash that could be spent otherwise, perhaps even on imported cookies.

All went well until the Rs.200 ran out and the daughter was back, asking us nicely for ‘music money’.

It had hardly lasted a month, which was a tad disappointing. So, we said no, of course.

And then, I wanted to download some music. My technical wizardary being just shy of magnificent, I took the chit’s help. She did it in a jiffy, but not before asking, ‘how much will you pay me for this?’.

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