Blog Parenting Technology

Son Buys First Apple TV Show

Teaching kids about money

A few months back, I had a heart to heart with my son about how iTunes works on the Apple TV. This came after he had purchased a couple of $2.99 shows on the Apple TV without my permission. Apple does not make it easy to set parental controls on the Apple TV. If you enable parental controls, you have to use a four digit passcode for just about everything, even launching Netflix. We often let our kids select their own shows on Netflix because we have a kid-safe profile set up for them. I would have to give them the four digit passcode so they could get into their Netflix shows, but that would be the same passcode that would allow them to purchase shows. Kind of a lost cause.

Tonight, my son came across a show he really wanted to see. It was a Paw Patrol Christmas Episode. I explained to him that the show had a cost of $2.99. I said to him, “The show you want to watch is not free. It will cost us two dollars and ninety-nine cents to watch that show.” After explaining to him what I meant by “cents” by using play money in the toy room, he expressed an interest in paying for the show himself. I took the opportunity to turn this into a teachable moment.

My kids each have a piggy bank. It’s not in the shape of a piggy, it’s in the shape of R2D2, but we still call it that. When they earn money for going over and above what they are asked to do, or a task outside of their regular responsibilities was completed, we occasionally give them some change. We don’t compensate them for everything, we actually don’t compensate them very often at all. However, my son wanted to buy this show and was prepared to pay for it with his own money.

Teaching kids about money

He brought out his piggy bank and we counted the money he had. He had enough for the $2.99 show. I took some time to discuss what spending money on a show would leave him with. I explained that if he spent $2.99 on a show, the next time he was at a store with us, he might not have enough money to get something that he really wanted. His response was, “I don’t need anything, I just got a lot of new toys for Christmas. I can wait until my Birthday.” I explained to him that his birthday was six months away and that he would need to save up again if he wanted to buy something before his birthday. He was ok with it. He really wanted to buy that show.

We counted our $2.99 and set that aside. We then counted what was left. He had $2.08 remaining. I explained to him that he was about to use more than half of what he had in his piggy bank. He was still ok with his decision. I also explained that he would only get to buy one show, because he did not have enough to buy two shows and that this show was only 24 minutes long. He said, “It’s ok, I can watch it twice.” Smart kid.

I looked over at my wife, who had been listening to our conversation and confirmed that she was ok with the transaction that was about to take place. She nodded yes. I explained to him that I was going to buy the show for him and that I would take his $2.99 to pay for it. I explained to him that when we buy shows that cost money, that money is taken from Daddy and Mommy’s bank account just like we took money from his piggy bank to pay for the show.

We purchased the show and it started to load. I asked him if he wanted to play the show now and share it with his brother and sister, or save it for later when he could watch it alone. He said that he wanted his brother and sister to be able to watch it with him. I then told his brother and sister that they were going to get to watch a show that their brother paid for. They both said, “Thank you brother,” and they watched the show together.

After the show was over I asked my son if he thought the show was worth $2.99. He said that it was and that he would like to watch it again tomorrow.

It’s hard to teach kids about money these days. We live in a world where we just swipe a card to get immediate gratification. I want my children to grow up knowing that money is real and it’s a limited resource. It takes hard work to get it and even harder work to save it.

What are some money saving teaching moments you have had with your children? If you have a moment, please share them in the comment section below.


  • Melissa Barry
    January 5, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Great Job Jerad! 2 years ago we started a DisneyLand fund in our house . We wanted to take the kids to Disneyland but I wanted the kids to really appreciate and understand that it takes sacrifice to go on a vacation like that. We got a five gallon water jar and taped a picture of Disney on the front. Every week my hubby and I would let the kids see us putting money in the jar and they had chances to add their own money too. We saved all the money they put in and gave it to them to buy souvenirs and such. It was a great trip and I really feel like they appreciated it more having been a part of the planning and saving process.

  • Jerad Hill
    January 5, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Love that idea Melissa!

  • Michael
    January 5, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    We had a similar experience(my wife and I) with our daughter recently. Over the past few months we have been in a very similar boat. We have tried explaining the difference between “free” shows and ones that cost money. We have also tried to explain that the shows that are “free” are ones we still pay a service for which is somewhat harder for kids to understand. My wife has tried to use these moments to make the connection for our kids with the stuff we consume, and with the work that I do out of the home and how there is a connection between work and pay. All of this led up to us getting the kids and them request piggy banks. We now are doing what it sounds like you do with our oldest around giving her money with the hopes to help teach her about it. As you mentioned the swipe of a card doesn’t really teach you about money and there isn’t the same tangible connection to it. Additionally, there are so many small lessons around arithmetic and other connections to education that I hope we can connect. I hope we can use the piggy banks much in the same way that you did. Creating the connection for the cost of a good that you want and understanding that those goods are not inexhaustible resources that will always be there.

  • Jerad Hill
    January 5, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Great to hear you are trying to teach your kids about money early on too.

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