When I had my first communion I received over two hundred dollars in gifts. To a seven year old it was like hitting the lottery. My parents took me to the bank and helped me open my first savings account. They also let me keep ten bucks out to buy myself a toy, which made handing over the rest of the money a little easier. They explained how the savings account worked, and even though the interest I was making amounted to less than a dollar a year I was enthralled.
As I got older I worked as a baby sitter, a bingo waitress and at McDonald's. Every time I got a paycheck I went to the bank and made a deposit into this same savings account.
I started thinking about that day a few months ago when Sam became aware of money. Coins, to be exact. While I'm not sure he understands their specific value, he seems to grasp that you can exchange it for goods and services. When he uses the potty he often requests a quarter for his potty prize in lieu of a stickers or candy. As soon as he gets the money in hand he darts upstairs to put it in his bank. Unfortunately he doesn't quite understand about paper money. This became immediately apparent when we took him to trade in his full bank of coins for paper money. He pitched a fit of epic proportions in the bank lobby. As he gets older we plan to let him start buying a toy or treat for himself with money he saves in his bank.
We often play grocery store and use pennies to pay for our baskets of pretend apples. I've bought him a play cash register for Lucy's birthday (although I never did give it to him because so many other people brought him gifts!) and once we break it out I'm hoping he'll get a little better understanding of things.
Once they both get a little older we'll start assigning some simple chores that they can do in order to receive an allowance. Then the savings accounts will be opened, and allowances and birthday moneys will be deposited with great gusto.
I think my parents did a pretty good job teaching me about money and savings. I can only hope I can do the same for my kids.
One way I can help to save money now is by winning and iphone instead of buying one! Capital One and The Parent Bloggers Network are giving away THREE iphones this weekend! Just write a post about how and when you taught/plan to teach your kids about money and then email the post to the folks over at PBN.