Saving money is often on lists of new year’s resolutions for grownups but it can also be there for young children, even before kids start school. In the humorous words of Liz Pulliam Weston in her article about money and preschoolers, “children are ready to learn about money as soon as they’re old enough not to swallow it. And increasingly the evidence suggests that we shouldn’t wait to begin teaching them.” Kids will let us know when they are ready by asking about it.
Kids seem to know at a very young age that they need money to get something, probably because they have seen us many times buying something. Often, as parents we tell them no, because we don’t have the money. When we buy something else they are confused because we just told them we didn’t have any. To avoid this confusion it would be better to say something like, “I don’t have money to buy everything. I have to choose and that is not one of my choices.” We spend or trade money for things and money certainly involves making choices.
Besides spending, we can also choose to save money or to share it. At Christmas, kids may have seen us share money with others. Now is a good time to add the choice about saving. Piggy banks are one way to save money but there is a tremendous assortment of other animals or designs. One of my favorites is a dinosaur bank. Kids can make their own bank from a jar or box and put in a few coins. At this age, they will not really understand the whole idea of saving but they are starting with an action. They often call money a treasure.
Saving money is a lot easier when it’s fun. The piggy, dinosaur or other bank can have a voice and talk with kids about money. Even if they see an adult saying the words, kids like to pretend. There are fun books and stories and a few songs or nursery rhymes. The association of credit unions have a website for pre-k kids and money and there are many others online too. Is helping your child learn to save money a new year’s resolution at your house?