Purposefully practicing the seemingly lost art of hard work, patience and saving for something

Let me come right out and say it…I blame The Secret.

I am all for the power of positive thinking, but only when there is some honest work attached. Sitting on my couch mentally emitting fabulous photography thoughts is not going to get me anywhere. It is not going to get me a new camera and it is not going to earn me the respect of people whose respect I value. I do have a vision board though as I think it is often hard to remember what I am working so hard to achieve. Especially since the good stuff usually takes a long time. The board is not just covered with material goods, but also words that represent more intangible goals I have.

As far as the material stuff goes, I want the Nikon D4. I will allow myself to desire it, but I don’t expect anyone to hand it to me for free. I am also not going to just go out and drop a cool SIX GRAND on it because I think it is AWESOME. I have a camera and four years on, it still works well. Sometimes companies do contact me to work with their gear. If that happens it is because I have been working my shutter finger off at photography since I first picked up a camera in 1984. That’s right, overnight success (officially called myself a pro in 1995 when I took my first paying  jobs) has taken me years. And I still have to earn my way. Daily. I am all for that though and I am doing something I love so I enjoy the process.

The thing is, I am finding it very hard to raise kids in this climate of ask and ye shall receive for-not-a-whole-lot-of-effort-on-your-part-other-than-the-asking-bit. See, Gemma wants an iPod Touch. She has plenty of things…toys, electronics, circus class, vacations, daily meals, education, health, etc… We are very fortunate and Alec and I are aware of that. But there is always something new…something more. So, we have decided that if she saves enough money she can buy an iPod touch for herself. It will cost her about $200.00 and that is A LOT of money to save when you are seven. Sure we could just buy one and share it or give it to her for a Christmas present, but we have decided that would not help Gemma learn the value of all these things she wants or already has. Plus we don’t think she needs an iPod Touch, but if it is her money, she can have control over how she spends it. It is tough not to blow the cash on little bits and pieces along the way. Also, it is really hard to keep the faith when you can’t see the goal or how far you have come in the journey. To that end, we made her a wish jar as she is nearly to the finish line. Hiding her money away in a opaque piggy bank was not enough of a reminder that she was making progress.

Here is what you will need and a few photos of the process.
Clean jar. We used a pasta sauce one, but you can buy them from the craft store as well. This was more fun to recycle something we had on hand. A slit can be cut in the lid to deposit coins, but we did not bother with that.
Picture of what you want. Gemma cut the iPod Touch and price out of the store circular. (We glued it to white paper so it would look neater from the back.)
Contact paper or packing tape. Aussies LOVE to cover books with contact paper so we had some in the house. You can easily use thick clear packing tape. The image is going on the outside of the jar (facing in) so you can see it when looking at the money collected.
Gemma likes to keep track of her money the old fashioned way with a pen and paper, but I also keep a log of her earnings in an app on my phone. Otherwise, we would be counting it daily.

Despite saving for nearly a year now, Gemma still wants to buy the iPod. Waiting has just deepened her desire and I am hoping will extend her time using it once she actually has one. It is harder to lose interest in something that is so hard won. It is how we are getting the kids to try different vegetables. We are growing them in the yard. Something that is difficult to obtain has more value to them and since they grew those veggies, they are proud and excited to eat them. Everything comes with a snap of the fingers today, but the best still comes to those who wait.

Next up, my D4 jar.

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  • Cathy - Fabulous idea! So hard to teach kids the value of things these days. I don’t hand my kids everything they want. This parenting gig has so many traps lol we have to step carefully 🙂 Good luck to Gemma! She will appreciate her iPod a whole lot more than other kids!January 15, 2012 – 9:36 pmReplyCancel

  • camilla duffy - Yes Yes Yes. Thank – you for your words and pictures.January 15, 2012 – 9:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate - I need a D4 jar too.

    Way to go Gemma.January 15, 2012 – 9:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Elisa | blissfulE - I need a lens jar… 🙂

    We’re using a very similar principle – my daughter is busking with her violin to save money for a cello.January 15, 2012 – 9:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Dawn @What's Around the Next Bend? - Great parenting 🙂January 15, 2012 – 9:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I couldn’t agree more! My nearly 11 year old needs a laptop for school this year, but instead of just buying it for him, we decided he needed to save up for half of it – that way he has more responsibility for it and has learnt that not everything is just going to be handed to him on a plate. He’s very proud to be able to tell people that he saved up for half of it!January 15, 2012 – 10:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Stefanie - Good for you guys for not just up and buying it for her, she will appreciate it so much more! Way to go Gemma!January 15, 2012 – 10:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Heidi - Absolutely! Something hard-earned is so much less easily tossed aside and forgotten. Great lessons you are teaching your kids!January 15, 2012 – 10:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Kim - This is awesome! I wish my mom would have thought of these kinds of things when I was growing up, but who says it’s too late to try something new? Maybe it’ll get me focused for when I go off to school in the fall for all (er, some) the essentials I need!January 16, 2012 – 1:45 amReplyCancel

  • Kimmy - Great idea, and a very valuable lesson for your kids! I get caught up in all the allure of gear – I have a Nikon D7000 but I want an FX camera as well. I’ve promised myself I won’t spend any more money on lenses or anything else until I save up enough for a new body. Don’t have a jar or anything, but my bank account can serve as a figurative one!January 16, 2012 – 8:46 amReplyCancel

  • valentina mantovani - great idea Rachel!!
    i totally agree with you! love this type of principle!January 16, 2012 – 9:33 amReplyCancel

  • Ellen - Great idea! My daughter isn’t quite this old yet but I will certainly use this. I saved up in a jar to buy my first (fancy) sewing machine, and it was much more rewarding that way!January 16, 2012 – 11:22 amReplyCancel

  • April - Wow, I wish my parents had done that with me while I was growing up instead of just buying me everything. Because now as an adult I do have a harder time when it comes to bills over what I want and so forth.January 16, 2012 – 11:28 amReplyCancel

  • Breanne - An excellent lesson for Gemma and reminder for us all! You’ll have to do a follow up when she reaches her goal for us though. 🙂January 16, 2012 – 5:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Shawna - Looooove this! Even when I was a teenager I saw the importance of earning things (as I saw so many of my friends spoilt). I hope we can have enough money for vacations and some nice treats as our kids get older, but I will always try to teach them the value of things through these types of lessons!January 16, 2012 – 9:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Kacie Q - Hello from Kacie Q Photography!

    Love your blog!January 16, 2012 – 11:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Sabina M - Great idea, Rachel! Lots of love 🙂January 17, 2012 – 3:45 amReplyCancel

  • bycostello - i’ll have to get my daughter to do the same as i want my ipad back!!January 17, 2012 – 10:31 amReplyCancel

  • tara pollard pakosta - We bought our daughter one for her 10th birthday, it cost about 350. expensive, they must have come down
    in price! that was 2 years ago….
    she appreciates and takes care of it, but I see more the value of making them earn it!
    she wants the upgraded one that takes photos, but I told her the camera isn’t as good as the iphone, she can wait and have my old iphone when she turns 13….(she’s 12 now)….I LOVE your idea of making them earn it.
    she will appreciate it and take good care of it knowing how hard she has worked for it!
    you are a super good mama!
    your idea is awesome!
    taraJanuary 17, 2012 – 12:35 pmReplyCancel

  • candis - I love this post. What a great idea. And yay, Gemma – you’re getting there!January 17, 2012 – 3:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Angela - Such a GREAT parenting move! This is one thing that Will and I both agree is so important to do with Henry! Big thumbs up to you guys!!January 18, 2012 – 1:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Fayth - At least shes trying to save up and shes determined… haha I’ve been saving up for the I-pod touch as well(the white one) and each time i pass the $50 mark i always give in and spend it on something… so good job Gemma and i hope you get it(=January 19, 2012 – 10:34 pmReplyCancel

  • christine - well, that is brilliant! I’m thinking I may need a D7000 jar…

    Madame has an ipod and I think she would probably love to make Gemma’s aquaintance on it when she gets hers…January 20, 2012 – 4:21 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - FACETIME! Gemma is living for the moment she has that!January 21, 2012 – 9:01 amReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - Saving for nearly a year at Gemma’s age is remarkable. The next time my 5yo gets a hankering for something that we don’t consider to be a good use of money I’ll suggest this to her.

    What app are you using on your phone for tracking?February 28, 2012 – 1:11 pmReplyCancel