Henry has been really interested in money lately. He really, really wants quarters for candy machines around town. We choose not to give him quarters on the spot and instead tell him that he can remember to bring quarters from his piggy bank (he solves this problem by turning the knobs anyway--it works more often than you think it would!--and finding stray candy on the ground and putting it in his mouth before we can stop him--it builds his immune system, right?).
His interest in money inspired my idea for his Christmas present this year: a modified piggy bank system that encourages him to save his money for various purposes. It contains five jars:
- Small Change: to spend on small, quick things (candy, cheap toys, etc.)
- Saving Up: to put aside for a larger purchase that takes a little time to save for
- Sharing: to give away
- Car: to save up for a car when he turns 16 (we will pay for his insurance and maintenance, but he will have to buy the car and pay for gas)
- College: to go toward his college savings account (we are saving for this, too, but we want him to have the awareness that it takes money)
Whenever Henry gets money, we will divide it into 10 parts. These 10 parts will be divided up into the jars according to the following fraction:
- Small Change = 1 part
- Saving Up = 3 parts
- Sharing = 1 part
- Car = 3 parts
- College = 2 parts
I'm not sure how Henry will actually get money. In a Montessori home, chores are just something that everyone does--it's part of how everyone contributes to the family. But I also see the value in him getting his own money so he can begin to learn really valuable lessons related to spending and saving.
Perhaps we'll just give him money each week equal to his age. We would refrain from buying him things when we're out and about and instead give him a couple dollars each week so we can sit down and divide it up into the jars.
We definitely wouldn't be starting this if he wasn't already noticing money and generating an interest in it. It's hard to know what approach to take. On the one hand, I really want to give him authentic practice with delaying gratification by saving for a larger item. Research shows that the ability to delay gratification is a huge indicator of success later in life. On the other hand, I don't want him to generate a scarcity mindset that makes him feel like he needs to hoard his money or I don't want him to feel like he doesn't get new things unless he pays for them himself. It feels like a tricky balance for sure.
What are your plans for teaching your children about money?