I walked over to meet William after school Friday. We walked home and he was plenty excited to work for his grandfather. There was a book that he wanted from the book fair.
We had a couple trees taken down at a rental, and Tim has been cutting the huge logs up to firewood length. Once that was done, he hauled the log splitter down and went to work. William cheerfully ran down to help him. Tim said later, 'Boy, he was ambitious today. He was rolling those logs up the bank right to me at the splitter."
I was getting supper together and I smiled. "The book fair," I said. There's a book that he's excited to get his hands on." Tim paid him $5 because it really was a big job, and William saved his old back from having to roll the logs up hill. I said, "Well, he should have $10 from last week, so there's his $15. Later that night, we worked together raking three yards, and Tim paid him another $5 bill. He worked cheerfully, and he worked hard, and we really feel like a job well done deserves a reward.
Tonight, getting ready for bed, William asked if Grandpa had any more work he could do.
"I don't know," I said. "You'll have to ask him.
William stood at the door watching me brush my teeth with a worried expression on his face.
"You've got the money for your book, right?" I asked after I spit.
It turned out he didn't. He had dropped his lunch, and paid for $1 for a slice of pizza. He had also bought a pen that wrote in invisible ink, which appeared magically under UV light, Luckily, the other end of the pen provided the light. That had set him back $3.18 including tax. He said, "I have $5 and change."
"You have $5.82," I said. "and you earned $10 today."
"Yes. I have the money for my book, but I don't have the money for the bank. You told me that I always have to put money in the bank when I get paid."
"Right," I said, "So how are you going to solve this problem?"
"Maybe Grandpa needs my help for something else."
"Maybe. You can ask him tomorrow." (Grandpa was already in bed.)
This was not good enough for William who wants his assurances right this very ding-danged minute.
"I could ask my mom to borrow some money."
"That's a poor habit to get into, really, William. What you're doing is spending money before you get it. You hear those advertisements for pay-day loans? Those folks are spending their next paycheck before they get it, and the worst part is that they are paying other people interest, so they're basically spending next week's paycheck plus paying someone else to be able to do that. Not cool."
He started getting emotional. "So, you're saying that I can't get the book?"
"No, I'm not. I'm saying that it is a bad idea to borrow money for every little thing you want. My question is 'can you get this book someplace else cheaper?'
We went to the online used book store and found the book he wanted. It was $4.50. He protested because he would have to wait to receive it I said, "So you're willing to spend every last penny you have to get the book two days earlier. If you buy this book, you get free shipping AND it will be here by November 9th. The other thing to consider is that you can also buy this (and I pointed out another book in the series), and get both books for about $9. Do you think it is worth it to wait the two extra days?"
I saw the light break over his face. "I could get two books, plus I'd still have money to put in the bank, and money left over, too. Heck, yeah. That's worth it!" and he was actually enthusiastic about it.
So, we sat down and placed the order for his book. When it was done, I said, "It's always wise to shop around for the best deal, William. You made a very smart financial decision today."
He carefully counted out the $9.08 he owed me and put the rest of his money carefully back into his wallet. "I need to text mom and tell her," he said.