Surprising Money Lessons from Mickey Mouse

Money talks….especially in a place like Walt Disney World. Oh, you might assume it’s all about getting vacationers to buy souvenirs and spend lavishly? But hold on there, space rangers! It’s not just about spending money, although you have plenty of opportunities for that.

We just returned from a family trip to Disney World, and as always, it was a magical experience we enjoy. This was the first Mickey Mouse encounter for our 2-year-old granddaughter. She learned a great deal, including some unexpected lessons about saving money and investing.

Here’s what I saw her take in:

1) Learning to wait brings rewards.
It’s hard for a two-year-old to understand waiting in line for the Dumbo ride, but she eventually got the idea. So did other kids. Grandma calls this delayed gratification, just like saving your money to buy something later.

2) Someone else is in control. Deal with it.
Even a two year old knows that mom makes the decisions and runs the schedule. When it comes to your money, it’s your bank, credit card companies, other lenders and your employer who run the schedule. If you don’t comply, you pay for it. Deal with it, by using a budget and a net worth statement.

3) Incentives work.
Prepared parents stay one step ahead of kids, especially tired kids. Promises of more fun after a nap or a sweet treat after a meal make good incentives. A two year old can get that. The same goes for saving and investing—those dividends and interest rewards keep us building that nest egg.

4) Small adds up to big– it’s magical.
There’s nothing like seeing Disney through the eyes of your grandkid. Mickey Mouse and his friends are larger than life, and Disney knows how to give a quality experience—and capitalize on desire. Of course, enamored kids (and grandparents) who get caught up in the magic keep wanting more. Now, transfer that to an investor’s mentality – small amounts add up and the more you get, the more you want.

5) Why can’t I get everything? It seems others do.

It’s hard for two year olds to understand “choose” or “just one,” and even adults have trouble with this concept. They want everything and don’t want to decide on prioritizing by what they can afford. (Think big screen tv, vacation home, new car, boat, etc.) Grandma calls this deciding wants vs. needs.

Can you relate? Email me with your story.

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