The Real Value of Coins and Dollars

My daughter emerged from the basement with a box in her hand, exclaiming, “Can we play this game?” Ah, it was Monopoly. How many evenings did my grandmother, sister, and I return to our seats in the dining room to toss the dice and take our turn? Decades later, it is a good feeling to watch my child, now, realize playing the game can reap great rewards or deplete her funds just as quickly! Even before the age of seven, parents can start guiding their child in the rewards of earning coins or dollars, saving for the future or a worthwhile purchase.

The Gift of Money

Parents awake in the early morning to the sound of the running steps of their child, delighted to discover the tooth fairy not only came, but left behind a crisp bill or several shiny coins. How often do parents smile at the practically screaming sentiment, “I am rich!” When money falls out of holiday or birthday cards, or she awakes to find a monetary surprise underneath her pillow, it resonates with the feeling of having a great possession. The immediate question may be, “What should I do with it?” This leads toward an ideal “teachable moment.” The windfall can be divided, for future spending and saving. Allow children to calculate the rewards when a set dollar amount saved weekly compounds monthly, yearly, and after five years. This will also help children understand the need for great patience and dedication.

Practice Decision Making, Buying and Spending

The jump from educational board games emphasizing counting, taking turns, and the competition of either winning or losing takes on a more advanced role when money enters each player’s hands. With particular games, such as “The Game of Life” or “Monopoly,” both having a “Junior” edition, these family games expand on lessons such as learning through spending and having to pay the unexpected bill. Thank goodness, pretending with play money is still an adventure and provides great “life” lessons. While video games offer speed of play, with the classic board games the act of holding, counting, and receiving money, moving a token, and sitting with the family is still exciting!

Additional ideas:

  • Encourage children who accompany you to the grocery store to comparison shop. Allow children to judge the amount for the price, and learn the value of brand names versus a generic brand.
  • Children can also look through grocery store advertisements or set up a pretend grocery store at home in the game of “How Much Can You Buy for $20?” In learning the cost of items and produce, children can gain a realistic understanding of the world of commerce.
  • A great place for children to practice spending their money is at a yard sale. Kids will discover their money stretches much farther than if shopping in a store.
  • Have open conversations about the household budget.   Allow children to see how monthly income is divided between bills, savings, and spending. When parents use the words, “Put it back,” or “No!” to a requested item, there can be a follow-up conversation that explains why every “want” is not purchased.

An Allowance

Young children will be eager to complete designated tasks and chores for an allowance. With any job that offers a payment, sit down and discuss the expectations, the price of the task, and the repercussions if the job is not completed or satisfactory. Allow children to understand that money is not easy to obtain. It takes work and dedication. In helping children develop the ability to save, provide half the allowance in either coins or one-dollar bills.

Skills Increase Reputation

Empowerment arrives when a neighbor offers a preteen or teenager the opportunity to receive payment in exchange for completing a task. All the guidance and training has been a stepping-stone toward this very moment. Whether the preteen or teenager is asked to help with a family business, tend a yard, care for a house, walk a dog, or babysit, earning money is a good motivation to earn a reputation as a responsible young adult.

And finally, to young people learning to deal with money: having money is an empowering feeling. As much as you see bills and coins and the swipe of a credit card actively used, there’s also a need for saying “No” to your wishes and understanding why part of your money needs to be wisely saved! It’s your turn to roll the dice! May fortune be on your side!