This week, my three-year-old began to learn the value of a dollar. Better said, he’s learning the value of a penny, nickel, dime and quarter.
And I can thank a "Curious George" cartoon on PBS. My son and I caught a few minutes of an episode the other morning that involved the scheming monkey using a piggy bank to save money to buy a toy.
My son immediately wanted a piggy bank. A blue one.
That afternoon when I picked him up from pre-school, I opened up a gift given to me at one of my baby showers before my son was born – a porcelain piggy bank. It wasn’t blue, but my son’s face lit up regardless.
“Mommy, I need coins,” he said. “I need coins like Curious George.”
I grabbed some spare change and attempted to explain its value. That was way too complex. So, we settled on learning the names and attributes: A penny is copper in color; a dime is the smallest coin; a quarter is the biggest. (I haven’t yet introduced the Susan B. Anthony coin.)
He loved it. My husband I explained to our son that if he helps pick up -- say his toys or the dinner table -- we’ll give him some money for his piggy bank. It has become such a successful tool. I’ve used it to get him to brush his teeth.
Some parents use stickers. We use pennies.
My next step is to help my son realize the choices he can make with his money: Spend it quickly, and buy one small toy or book. Or save more, and buy a bigger toy or more books. I’m not quite sure he’ll get the concept entirely, but at least I’ll have some extra help with chores around the house. And he'll be on his way to saving later in life, I hope.
Tell us what you've done to teach your kids about money and saving.