Teaching Kids The Value Of Time

DSC_0080-S The morning of St. Patrick’s Day began like most other weekdays, with my wife and daughter getting ready to leave early for school while my son and I watched Mike & Mike on ESPN together and talked sports. For reasons unknown, everyone is a little bit Irish on St.Patrick’s Day. The kids were all asked to wear green to school as the daily theme for the month-long March Madness celebration. My son planned on wearing a green shirt with his green sneakers to partake in the celebration.

While watching Mike & Mike, a commercial came on for a local business that is known mostly for their ice cream, although they do have various other offerings. In an effort to capitalize on the Irish in all of us, this business was promoting 50 cent ice cream cones to anyone wearing green that day. Needless to say, this winter has done little to inspire people to run out and buy ice cream, so this promotion served as a gentle reminder that ice cream season is almost here, and this is the place to get it.

To an 11-yr old boy, 50 cent ice cream cones sound like a deal too good to pass up, so he was surprised at my lack of enthusiasm for the promotion. I explained to him that,while it is a good deal if you happen to be there anyway and there wasn’t much of a line, it was not a good deal if you have to drive a half hour each way to take advantage of the offer and wait for an extended period of time.

This promotion gave me the opportunity to teach a life lesson about the value of time. The reason that promotions like this exist is because many people are motivated to take advantage of a perceived great offer. It has always been somewhat mind boggling to me that people place more value on getting a deal than they do on their time, which is the most precious commodity that anyone has.DSC_0012-S

I explained to my son that I wouldn’t wait on a long line even if the ice cream cones were free, regardless of whether we had to drive to take advantage of the offer or not.  Without hearing the conversation, my wife came into the room and expressed the exact same opinion as me when my son told her about the deal.

Kids often think of money in black and white terms, but as the old saying goes…“time is money.” We explained to our son that, in addition to the cost of gas to take advantage of this offer, there was a cost for our time as well. Neither my wife nor I are compensated financially for our free time, but we told our son that we value it just as much as our time spent working.

By the time that we got done with our explanation, our son realized that these 50 cent ice cream cones would be far more expensive than he first thought, and a valuable lesson was learned.
Written by Adam Waldman