Virtual Cows and The Money Smart Lesson

by Lisa McCarthy

interactive gamesLike most children these days, the computer and its interactive games seem to rule my daughter's world. Yes, we are responsible parents and limit her time but she's still online putting dresses on penguins, taking care of horses and keeping her webkinz® well feed. We drew the line when it came to buying virtual outfits, farm animals and such.

So you can imagine our surprise when we received a bill for $500 worth of digital farm animals. Luckily, it was not the working of my daughter but a virtual hacker who accessed our online account.

After the initial shock, this little incident did provide a great opening conversation about spending wisely.

We used the example of a $500 online cow versus a $500 real cow. For a real cow, you could get milk to drink for a very long time, a real cow could help daddy mow the lawn by eating the grass (okay so we stretch the truth a little I don't think they would allow us to use cows as lawn mowers in the city we live in). Then we compared that to what a digital cow could do -- you get the picture.

This incident turned into many discussions about looking at things for their long-term value -- something that we could use for a long period of time versus something short-lived.

Next, we talked about the buying decisions she'd made over the past year -- which were good and which weren't so good ones. For example, she mentioned the $50.00 toy she had used her birthday money for that broke within a month; the cool pen she had to have that she lost the next day at school. I even shared something's that I had bought that were not the best buying decisions.

It was a great life lesson and one that we will refer to over and over again as my child starts to make more buying decisions. The lessons my daughter learned from the $500 in virtual cows was priceless. Lucky for us, after several phone calls -- those digital farm animals were returned.

What lessons have you experienced with your kids?

Lisa McCarthyLisa Laughton McCarthy is a mom with a passion! As the founder of MoneySmartKidz and author of "The Money Tree," Lisa, takes delight in finding fun creative ways to help show young children the value of financial independence! Her first book "The Money Tree," with its eye catching illustrations, is the answer to every parent who wants to give their child a head start on the road to financial independence.

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