Don’t Be A Sales Tax Fairy (STF)

Do you remember when you first realized that items cost more than their price tag? I can remember when my son first had that realization. He was 8, and wanted to buy a skateboard with some birthday money.  We searched online for the skateboard he wanted – found it – and proceeded to check out. But when we got to the screen where you pay, Sam noticed that he now needed $59.38 for a $39.99 skateboard.  What was happening he wanted to know?

This was before free shipping had become almost standard if you were willing to wait  – and we lived where sales tax was 6%.  I took him through the math, where $39.99 times 1.06 became $42.39, and then showed him the $16.99 shipping and handling charge for someone to box up and mail him the skateboard – which brought the total to $59.38 – a $19.39 increase over what he thought he was spending.  I will never forget him saying to me “OK – but you will pay that right – the sales tax and shipping?” In an instant I heard my own mother, saying to my sister and I in a very similar moment, albeit years ago and not when we were online “Do I have a Sales Tax Fairy who pays these costs for me?”

In an instant I heard my own mother, saying to my sister and I in a very similar moment, albeit years ago and not when we were online “Do I have a Sales Tax Fairy who pays these costs for me?”

It was a classic parenting moment, where I was struggling to find the right balance – between not wanting to rob my child of the thrill of making a much anticipated purchase with “his own money” – but knowing that a golden teachable moment had dropped into my lap. At 8, I knew Sam wasn’t ready for a huge talk about how sales tax revenues pay for things like schools and roads, or even for listing all of the costs of doing business that necessitate shipping and handling charges. But he did learn about the difference between the price of an item and it’s total delivered-on-time cost that day. Who knew then, but it was probably experiences just like this that led to Gifting Sense, where we turn shopping for birthday and holiday gifts into a tool to help parents teach their kids to think before they buy.

Sam is older now and always considers the total cost of an item he is looking at, which of course includes sales tax, shipping, and in the case of cross-border shopping, even duties. He’s getting pretty good at managing his money, and understanding the true value of his requests. He only asks for items or experiences he will really use and/or appreciate because he always completes Gift Surveys when considering a purchase, or answering the question “What would you like for your birthday or Christmas this year?”

A lot of these lessons began way back when he first realized that he needed a Sales Tax Fairy to help him purchase a small and really unremarkable – but very memorable skateboard. How are you teaching these lessons in your family? “Get Started” with a Gift Survey today and see how our safe, free, quick, mobile service can help.


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