The kids have had piggy banks for a long time. They have stuffed birthday money, spare change and, apparently, LEGO pieces in their banks for years.
Lately, Zacharie has been asking to spend his money. Often. When the Toys R Us flyers arrive each week, he flips through it and tells us all the things he wants. When we say “No,” he tells us he will use his money.
Perhaps it is time to start teaching him about money.
Savings. Spending. Sharing.
A lot of lessons about kids and money have you set up three jars and get the kids to divide their money each time they save it. They are to put part in a jar to spend, part in a jar to save for something bigger, part in a jar to share.
We took that approach too, but twisted it a little bit. We needed to get their money out of the house. One day, after a particularly compelling charity speech at school, Zacharie went to his piggy and dumped out his money to bring to school “so people can breathe and I can get an iPad.”
While it was great he was wanting to share, he was likely doing it to try and get the iPad, so we had to make sure the money in his account was used properly. Time to open a bank account.
I dumped out the piggies and had them help me sort out their funds. I was astonished how much we had saved. Between the two of them, there was $800. [This is one of the reasons I love the two dollar and one dollar coins in Canada, I have a huge cranberry juice container in my office where I dump my coins at the end of the day, it adds up quickly when you dump $2-$3 in each time]
We rolled and counted and sorted and then made our deals. Some would be to spend. Some would be to share. Some would be to save.
I pulled out $50 from each pile. With this money, I told them, we would go to a store and they could buy something for themselves and also buy something for the Calgary Firefighters Toy Drive. This is a charity we support each year with the boys buying something they’d really like for Christmas and then giving it away. Usually I use my money, this year they would use their own.
The rest of the money would then go in to a bank account where they could save for something big. Charlie wants to go to Mexico, Zacharie wants to travel to Florida. Who knows? Maybe the kids will be paying their own way on the next vacation! There’s also mountain bike gear, snowboards, ski lift passes and lessons, and other things the boys have on their wish list, so putting the money in the bank can let it gather until they decide what they need it.
Or will it.
But Banks Get Robbed Daddy!
A common theme in LEGO City gaming apps and videos is cops and robbers. The robber has a bag of money and he’s fleeing the police. “I don’t want to put my money in the bank, Daddy. Banks get robbed!!” Zacharie lamented when I hatched our savings plan.
Zacharie was under the idea that when you deposited money, it was that exact money that you needed to get back when you returned. He was worried his would disappear if it was in a bank and it was robbed. It was then we went to our local bank and asked the teller how the money is kept safe from robbers. I aslo tried to explain to him how banks loan and borrow everyone’s money. How digital records are kept. And many other commerce ideas that were far too high over his head.
Eventually he settled down, but as we drove into to downtown Calgary to open his bank account with Tangerine, he said it again from the back seat.
“Banks in the city are robbed more than banks in the country, Daddy.” And then, after we had deposited the money in the machine to open his account, he asked again to make sure his money was safe.
Satisfied that his money would still be there when he wanted it, Zacharie handed over his bag of cash.
I think we’ve learned the lesson well. Or maybe too well, the boys will now say “I can use my own money!” when they see something that they want, but now that their “own money” is in the bank and not upstairs in their rooms, it’s made the idea of thinking about buying something less immediate. They know have to really want it, we’d have to go to the bank to get the money, and they understand the more they take out, the less they have for Florida, Mexico, or whatever.
ASIDE: You should read the article I wrote about how to get a bonus for opening a new account at Tangerine. When we deposited $500, we opened accounts for everyone in the family and got new account/referral/kid account bonuses of $250. Seriously. There’s no catch, just open the accounts, use the referral code, get the money.
The timing is perfect as November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada!