There may have been many lessons that my parents taught me as I grew up, but there was one lesson that has stuck with me since I was little.  I am a video game buff.  I enjoy video games and still play them to this day (Xbox 360 baby).  I am not addicted to them and don’t sit in front of the television all day playing video games in my underwear (I always keep pants on when around the house).  I am not a big fan of video games that include social networking or multi-player action.  I have never really enjoyed those ever since they came out, so I don’t purchase them.  I like to work on single player/co-op games that are local with friends, but that is just my preference.

My parents bought my siblings and myself the original Nintendo when we were young.  We all loved that gaming system, especially the hot game of Duck Hunt!  I know you have either played it or heard of it.  Duck Hunt was awesome and I am not afraid to admit it.  We all played that gaming system each and every day.  Our friends wanted to play it and we would happily oblige.  We thought we were the talk of the neighborhood because he had the latest and greatest.  That was until the Super Nintendo (Super NES) came out.

Ever changing technology

super nintendo consoleIf you have played video games or purchasing gaming systems for your kids, then you know that gaming technology changes quite quickly.  You think you are running the latest and greatest and then another console manufacturer comes out with something new.  It is hard to keep up, especially with the price tag on gaming consoles and the accompanying games.  Once we knew that the Super NES was out on the market, we just had to have it.  I mean, we were jumping from an 8-bit system to a 16-bit system.  Can you believe the power?  Well, can you?

The Power of No!

As an eight year old child when the Super NES came out, the easiest way to get that beautiful piece of technology was to ask our parents for it.  We begged and pleaded them each and every day for that game console.  We figured that it would be easier to ask for it as a Christmas gift for all of us, but our parents never budged.  They would always answer us with No!  Why is it so easy for them to deny us the greatest gifts?  Can they just not open their wallets and fill our hearts with endless enjoyment?  I mean, really, it is that hard?

I continued to pester my mother and father a few times per week about this new Super NES system, but they were holding strong.  My greatest weapon at the time was pushing them to their breaking point, or so I thought.  I have never seen them hold so strong about something that we all wanted.  I didn’t know what was going on or what to do.

I feel a lesson brewing

super mario world game
This was my favorite Super NES Game!

After days and weeks of pestering, my parents decided to give in, or did they?  My parents finally decided to discuss the possibility of getting the Super NES.  I was so excited that we might be able to jump in the car and go to the store to pick up that sweet piece of technological power.  Well, not so fast.  My parents decided to use this situation to teach an important lesson.  They decided that if I wanted this system so bad (I was the only one that was still fighting for the system), then I should have to purchase it myself.  Wait?  WHAT?

I was going on nine years old and my parents thought it would be a good idea to figure out how to purchase the system myself.  Back then, those systems were like a million dollars.  How was I going to earn that much?

Along with putting together the idea of me earning the system, they decided to allow me to work more around the house in order to earn the money.  I could pick up more chores and do things to help out.  I am sure that my parents loved this because they wouldn’t have to do some of the cleaning.  What a great idea parents, you don’t look as clueless as a child might think.

Thanks Mom and Dad

thank you signI am not sure if I ever thanked my parents for this little life lesson.  I had never been responsible for earning the money necessary to purchase what I wanted.  Not only earning the money, but working hard for it (by nine year old standards).  I worked around the house and helped my parents with errands for quite some time. It took many, many months to earn the money necessary to purchase a new Super NES.  There was no better feeling than getting in the car and my parents driving me to the store to pick out my very own Super NES.  When we got to the cash register, I got to pay the cashier with cash, cold hard cash.  There was no better feeling.

When I opened that new game console, I probably had the biggest smile on my face.  I earned that system.  I really worked hard and saved for that system.  I resisted temptation from the candy store and the ice cream man to reach my dream.  My parents had taught me one of the best money lessons and that is to work hard for what you want and save for what you wish to purchase.  This simple lesson molded my young mind to always work hard for everything that I want.  I don’t expect things from anyone, I earn them.  This is an important lesson that I want to teach my son.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

So, what is your greatest childhood money lesson?  I want to hear what you have to say below.


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  1. I also was an avid video game player as a kid, and there was definitely a balancing act between my parents purchasing me games (didn’t happen often) and me saving to purchase them myself. The only time they’d really pay for the gaming systems and games was for birthdays or Christmas. I don’t want to know how much money I spent on games over the years…

    1. Once I bought the system, my parents bought me a few games, but I had to buy the rest. I have been buying games ever since. Too bad they are so expensive these days.

  2. LOL, great post. Personally, Tetris was my game of choice. In fact, it wasn’t more than 5 years ago that my “baby” brother came over to the house, clutching his SuperNintendo, complete with Tetris and all kinds of other games, asking if we wanted it. Apparently, his wife thinks he’s too old for this type of “silliness”. For a brief moment, Rick and I looked at each other with excitement. Think of the marathon Tetris competitions we could hold! In the end, however, we set aside countless hours of fun for adhering to the duties of raising our 4 babes. Maybe we’ll save the SuperNintendo for retirement. That’s some seriously frugal fun! 🙂

    1. Tetris was a good game. I know a lot of people love that one as well, but Mario was where it was at for me. I can see you getting into a marathon tetris game and then the kids don’t know what to do. That would be funny.

  3. My brother and I had a similar experience with a go-cart. I lived in a very small town (350 people small) so it was a rural community with a lot of farming activity. Many of the kids my age were getting 3-wheelers (remember when those were legal?) and driving them on the gravel area surrounding a local business (they had permission). One of the older kids on our bus mentioned that he was selling his go-cart as he had gotten too big for it. We begged and pleaded our parents to buy it – they said we had to buy it ourselves. We each plunked down $40 for it. For a kid my age (that many years ago) that was a ton of cash. We took REALLY good care of that go-cart because we were heavily invested in it….and man, did we have a BLAST driving that thing around.

    1. Go-carts are sweet. We wanted one when we were young, but our parents said no. My brother and I built one from a frame that we were given. That was pretty sweet and made me a DIY ever since!

  4. I’m planning on being that kind of parent. My kids are going to have to work for what they want. Hopefully they can understand why, and not resent us.

    What are your favorite type of games if you don’t like MMOs?

    1. We have to keep the responsible parenting alive.

      I am a fan of Call of Duty (campaigns, not multiplayer) and assassin’s creed games. I like strategy and single shooter games. I do enjoy the co-op part of Call of Duty that I work on with a good friend from time to time. That is all local though. I think every game I own has a multiplayer component, but I just don’t play them.

  5. I loved Duck Hunt! But Super NES changed my life haha. My family never even upgraded to anything else after because it was so great! I loved hearing this childhood money lesson story and think your parents gave you a wonderful gift to pass on 😉

    1. Never upgraded, really? When I was done with the Super NES, I decided to upgrade to the Nintendo 64 and the Sony Dreamcast (sucked).

  6. I love this post, and I was obsessed with Duck Hunt!! 🙂

    Such a great lesson your parents shared…these are the types of things every kid needs to learn as early as possible!

  7. One of mine has to do with stealing. When my brother and I were probably about 9 and 10 years old, we each stole a small tool from the local hardware store during a trip there with our parents. About a month later my dad found them under our bunk bed. When confronted, we told the truth and admitted to stealing the stuff.

    To teach us a lesson, my dad made us return the items personally to the store manager. He made us bring our sleeping bags and led us to believe that the manager would be calling the police and we would probably be going to jail. Scared the crap out of me and stealing never became an issue in my life.

    1. What a way to do it. Make you think you are going to jail, because they allow you to bring your sleeping bags. Awesome and it apparently worked.

  8. I have to be grateful that my father always wanted and bought the new gaming systems before we had to beg! He’s in his 50s now and still has to have the most updated systems and yes, still plays once in a while.

    My parents honestly never taught me any money lessons. They were always desperate for cash and even took the $50 I won at an art show when I was 7. They always had poor credit and I guess seeing that growing up caused me to not want to live like that. I guess learning from other peoples’ mistakes was a lesson they inadvertently taught me.

  9. The Super NES was emmense! Mariokart, street fighter 2 turbo, need I go on. Too bad I only got mine as the playstation was being released, stingy parents. I understand why now I’m older but I’d still like to find a way for my kids to have their version of the Super NES whilst still learning to appreciate the money, in the same way yours did probably.

  10. My parents always encouraged me to save my money to pay cash for whatever I wanted. I thank God that they taught me that lesson because I was always very cautious about spending my money. I held on to my money and asked myself whether I needed it or not. I was a kid keep in mind but having my own money made me feel like an adult and I made sure I took good care of it. Mom says I wouldn’t spend it at all… haha.

  11. Well, I adore this post and the wonderful lesson your parents taught you. There is something about earning what you want yourself that is so powerful. I wish more parents did this with their kids. The first time my girls asked how they could earn money to buy something they saw in the store rather than asking me to buy it for them – I had to stop myself from dancing in the aisle. 🙂 I have to also confess that I’m not a big video game person and I have no idea what Duck Hunt is, but I do know what a Super NES is, so I’m still sorta cool, right?

    1. Well, Shannon. I don’t know what to say. Your coolness just went down a notch because you don’t know how awesome Duck Hunt is, but since you still rock, I will let it slide (just a little). 😉

      1. Whew! Thanks Grayson! I was worried. Clearly I need to get up-to-speed as the girls are started to show more interest in video games. It will probably be a little bit embarrassing when my 7-year old beats me too. 😀

        1. You apparently have a lot of work to do Shannon. There is nothing wrong with kids beating you in video games. My nephew does it all of the time when he plays me.

  12. great lesson. My parents never paid for any chores but encouraged entrepreneurship so if we wanted something we had to work (out of the house) for it. I mainly wanted clothes and CDs when my friends had everything, and my parents would pay for a basic clothe, if I wanted a special brand I had to cover the difference.

    1. I thought the allowance was good. We had to finish up our chores by a certain time in order to get paid and if we didn’t, then we wouldn’t get our allowance. We still had to finish our chores though.

  13. What a great lesson! I think it’s important for parents to teach their children lessons like this, not just for the monetary lesson but also for the lesson on working for what you want. When I was young, I saved up with my brother for a trampoline that we used for years and years.

  14. Old school nintendo was so much fun. We used to play duck hunt so seriously we’d accidentally hit the TV screen and my nana would yell at my cousin and I to be careful not to break the television. We also used to put bandaids on our thumbs to help us play harder. Thanks for the memory flashback and sharing your lesson.

    1. Oh yes, getting close the the Television was always a problem that my parents hated. TV’s were expensive back then and a pain to repair.

  15. Great lesson. It’s important for parents to teach their children the meaning of a dollar and No. It seems as though these lessons are occurring with less frequency. Final Fantasy and the original Zelda series for the win!

    1. I agree that those lessons are becoming less commonplace. I hear all the time when parents give in when we are out shopping. My parents never used to do that. They would take me out of the store if I was complaining and wining because I wanted something.

  16. That was a valuable life lesson Grayson! I think kids today are lacking the motivation to want to earn their own money. Its hard for them to go to school with all the kids who have the latest gaming system, iPhone, sneakers, cars etc, etc. They don’t understand waiting and earning, that is like the dewey decimal system, or life before the internet? Non existent!

    1. Kids today (not all) expect to be rewarded for doing almost nothing. That is truly the parents fault for not teaching them life lessons like the one my parents taught me.

  17. Loved Duck Hunt Grayson! My sister and I would have competitions to see how many perfect rounds we could do in a row. We recently had this same experience with our oldest son as he wanted to purchase a new DSi. He worked extra jobs around the house and took at least six months to save up the money. He was so excited to purchase that on his own. I have noticed that he takes real good care of it, more so than some of the items we have bought for him.

    1. The perfect round was always the goal, wasn’t it Brian? I notice that my nieces and nephews take care of the stuff that they had to work for much better as well.

  18. This sounds a lot like my childhood growing up. Although we ended up with the old SEGA master system 2.

  19. All of us have been taught valuable lessons by our parents at some point in time of our lives. We have to be grateful that we know how to strive for something. It is really necessary to work hard for material things before we can buy them.