Just when I thought my kids may have soaked up a bit of wisdom about money, my 12-year-old daughter goes and blows $3.00 of her hard-earned babysitting money on an ice cream cone from an ice cream truck. Then, she informs me that she wants to buy an iDog, or some sort of weird toy that lights up. After I give her grief about “wasting money” on ice cream and silly toys, I’m sure she’s wondering why the heck make money at all if she can’t spend it on what she wants. Gulp.
But, I’m not clear enough with her. I want her to use her money for a school trip she’s taking into New York City. Where, of course, she’ll blow it on probably candy and a dumb toy. This is a lesson in how to confound kids about money.
What I really wanted her to do is to put the whole $20 bucks in her savings account, where, it would languish for years because we don’t allow the kids to take anything out of that account. The confusion of it all.
I wish I could start all over again and teach my kids about money, perhaps in a much better way. I feel like I’m only teaching them how to pinch a penny and never let it go, and that can’t be good because when they are older they may want to play “catch up” on all the meaningless things they perceived that they missed out on buying. But for those with younger kids, there’s Sesame Street’s new money lessons for kids. Though I haven’t delved in to the website to evaluate the lessons, I’m just thrilled there’s a resource for parents that was not around when my kids were younger. If you’re curious, take a look at this clip on Sesame Street’s money lessons.
Sesame Street is not alone in giving parents and teachers ideas for teaching kids about money. One school in Connecticut took money lessons into the classroom during Financial Literacy Day. Teachers outfitted each child with a moon jar–a three-compartment savings bank.
Could this be the first step in a new and necessary curriculum for every grade? I can see this becoming part of Home Economics–a.k.a Consumer Arts in many academic circles. But a baby step–buy or create a moon jar and get cracking on teaching the value of saving pennies. A moon jar certainly beats the talking money jar I used for my kids–rather than teaching money habits, it turned out to be short-lived entertainment.
Now…let’s hope the U.S. Mint will still make pennies to pinch in the future.
Check out Moonjar’s blog, too: www.moonjarblog.blogspot.com