Teaching Little Ones About Money

This weekend, we had our first money lesson with Daughter Person.  I think it went pretty well.

Daughter Person got some money for her birthday, and has been keeping it in a “wallet” with her toys.  She’ll play “pretend store” with me where she dumps a bunch of toy jewelry in my lap and ask me how much something is.  I’ve always been pretty simple and say most things are $1, with a few being $2.  She’s using the real US dollars to “pay” me, then I give them back to her to put back in her wallet.  I had a pretty good idea of how much was in her wallet: $7.

We went to the zoo for a class, and we’re allowed to remain in the zoo afterwards, so we went to the aquarium (she wanted to see the fish, and we were happy to be out of the cold!).  In the aquarium is a store with all kinds of stuffed animals, and Daughter Person wandered in there and started looking at things.  She asked if she could buy something, and I got this bright idea to remind her that she had $7 at home, and that Mommy would give her $7 now, but she had to give Mommy $7 when we got home.  She “got” it, and started looking around. Dad and I started looking around also, and realized that there was absolutely nothing that she could get for $7, so I offered to give her $3, so she could buy something that was $10.  (I completely left taxes and our membership discount out of the discussion).

She spent her time looking around to find things that were less than $10 – there was a small pile of little stuffed animals for $9.99.  She’d ask how much they were, and we’d look and answer with “you can afford that, or no you can’t afford that”.

She settled on a red-eyed tree frog (for some reason, she remembers that episode of Diego really well…).  She picked it up and continued to look, but that’s what she wanted.  So, I gave her $11 to give to the cashier, and told her to pay. I asked over her shoulder about our membership discount of 10%, and handed over our membership card as well.  She handed over her money, and handed back to me whatever the cashier gave her (there were coins involved).

Then, when we got home, she willingly gave me her $7 once I reminded her.

I think it’s time to institute an allowance and let her buy her own toys for the most part. I didn’t think we’d have to worry about the allowance until she was older (like 5 or 6)!  If you have kids, how do you handle the allowance?  Do you tie it to chores?  Do you just give them a certain amount of money?

4 thoughts on “Teaching Little Ones About Money

  1. jasonedwards57

    This is great. I think this is an awesome lesson in learning value and the like. And the allowance will only help more because she can learn about savings, spending, and giving!

    1. Mom Post author

      We’re just going to work on the spending part for now – even if the “saving” is for later spending. We’re working on coming up with the delineation of family chores where she won’t get paid for them, and the “money chores” where she can get paid for them. $4 is still a fortune to a 4 year old.

  2. donebyforty

    Huge props to you for having your child pay for her own toys. I see the begging that happens in stores and think, man, what precendent is being struck here?

    1. Mom Post author

      This is the first (and so far, only) time we’ve made her pay for a toy – we generally just say no. She’s pretty good about taking no for an answer in general. And it gives us ideas for what to buy her for Christmas, birthday, etc. I’m pretty sure my mom will continue buy her random things – and I certainly do, but not when she’s with me.


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