The “Toys R Us test”

How many times have you been at a store and the kids try to pick up something and leave with it and you have to play the bad guy and say no? Sometimes the kids cause a riot and you may even reluctantly leave with a piece of candy or toy you did not intend to leave with. This is frustrating to no end but often we take the short-term solution just to get them out of the store without making a scene. I have a solution for that.

The “Toys R us test”

Now it doesn’t have to be Toys R us. It could be any toy store or department store with a large toy section for the kids to be able to find something they want to leave with. A candy store works as well for short trips. In fact it is very likely any store the kids go into they will find something that they absolutely have to have. But it goes as follows;

Take your kids to Toys R us and spend an hour or more there. Let the kids play, look at and touch anything and everything they want to. However, and here is the hard part; you cannot leave with anything. This is a test for the parents as well as a learning experience for the children. Be prepared to be constantly putting things back and being firm with your kids. The purpose of this is to learn to say no to your kids and to teach your kids they can’t have something every time they go into a store. This will test your patience. Likely it will be harder for you as a parent than for you kids. But it helps to go to the store knowing what is going to happen and setting aside the time to be able to deal with whatever the kids throw at you. Temper tantrums, crying, guilt-tripping, running away, and throwing things are all things you can expect to happen as well as some things you may not expect.

You may feel that you are egging your kids on or purposely putting them in a situation where they are going to get upset. And that may be exactly what you are doing. That is kind of the point. This is a test of their ability to resist buying something and your ability to resist buying them something. It is exactly the challenge of putting them in this situation that will lead to benefit.

A couple of other ways to play this;


  • Go looking for a birthday gift for a friend’s birthday. My kids found it hard at first picking something for someone else rather than themselves. Whatever they choose they wanted to keep for themselves.*
  • Explain to the kids that you are going shopping for a child who doesn’t have any toys and that we want to help them by buying them something they can’t buy. This is a different experience altogether but I think it’s a good lesson for them.
  • When they get a little older you can take them to a thrift store or teach them about pricing. But the key is to get them out of the buying mindset. So if you need something I think that shopping around and other strategies make sense. Train them that over buying is a recipe for being poor


When you leave with nothing you will have saved yourself some money, now and in the future and you will have made your life easier next time you enter a store with your kids. You will likely have to try this many times before they stop the nagging. Let’s be honest this may never stop but it will get easier.

*Making something for their birthday is probably a better solution

** As much as I think the birthday gift and the charity variations are valuable, I recommend trying this without buying anything at all. Sometimes leaving the store with nothing at all can be harder than with something even if it is not for them.





What am I going to do with that?

What do you want for your birthday?

My wife is constantly asking me this question. Weather it be my birthday, Christmas or fathers day my answer is always the same and it pisses her off “nothing.” And every time she explodes with frustration. This is particularly annoying to her at Christmas when it is almost expected that gifts are bought for everyone in the family weather people want them or not. I know that the family is asking her what they can get me, and I don’t do it to be an asshole but most times there really isn’t anything that I want. And when I receive something like another piece of clothing, or a collectible or a gift card I ask; what am I going to do with this?

I take great joy in giving gifts to family and friends. But only when I know the gift is really going to make them happy or when it’s something that they really want or need or cannot afford. Not just because I feel obligated or because its tradition or because somebody will be angry if I don’t get them anything.

“But it’s the thought that counts.” Bullshit. Too often people give and receive gifts that are worthless or thoughtless. The gift may have increased your credit card bill by $50 and within a week it is underneath the couch covered in dog hair. This is especially true of gifts for the kids. We go through this cycle over and over with the kid’s toys. The kids receive gifts of toys from Grandparents and birthday parties from other kids. They also occasionally pick something up from the thrift store for cheap on one of our financial learning outings (other post). A few months later as the toys and games pile up, we clean out the kid’s room to make space for all the additional stuff that has been acquired and get rid of it.

For mothers day this year the kids and I built a flower box for mom with scrap wood found in our shed. *The kids then painted it with old paint we had left over from when the house was painted and we filled it with dirt from the garden. This was a simple gift that cost virtually nothing and the kids learned something in the process. I also got do what I want to do more of what I love to do; spending more time with my kids.

Recently I have started answering her question by asking for tools. I figure that this will teach me to be handy around the house and in turn save money. It will also help me to be creative with the kids. Next time one of them asks me to help them build a tree fort, a go-cart or a birdhouse I will have the tools needed to help them get it done.

We need to teach kids that spending money just to satisfy a craving or a tradition is unhealthy. Kids watch everything that we do and so when I say I don’t want anything it’s because I am happy with what I have. Let’s be positive financial role models for our kids. I have a wonderful family and kids that constantly want to dig in the back yard with me, have me take them bike riding or play the troll game. I want them to understand that they don’t need physical things to be happy. And I try to be around as much as possible to show them that.



Who is Daddy?

About me and the why Dr Daddy Dollars.

I needed an outlet for the frustration I felt as a financial professional and an average person, as a responsible adult and as parent raising three young boys. I needed to vent about the people constantly complaining about how hard it is to make ends meet and get ahead and then spend their student loan money on I-phones, frappuccinos (it took me several tries to spell this) and Mexican holidays. Buying a brand new $50,000 car financed on credit but not being able to save a down payment for a home. I also felt that along with helping people understand and manage their money better, it made sense to start with the kids. I feel the best time to learn about money is early on in life and I feel that school doesn’t adequately prepare us well enough to deal with money.

Dr. Daddy Dollars will share his experiences raising kids with a focus on teaching kids and adults about money management from an early age. I also wanted to write down everything that I was thinking and organize it in a (semi) logical way so that my wife could better understand me and why I do the things I do. I do not believe that money belongs above everything else in this world but I do believe when money isn’t an issue it opens up the ability to be more focused on the things that matter most. For me that means family and spending more time with my kids. If we manage our money in an efficient way we can free our time to use as we chose rather than spending time working to generate income.

Many of the things I reference on this site occur in my own life. I will share experiences of myself and my family and pass on what I have learned. We are not perfect as a family but we have done pretty well. It is a matter of choice, but I believe that we can be financially independent in 5 years by the time I am 45. And if I can help others learn from our successes and mistakes I will have accomplished what I set out to do.