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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


This is a guest post by the husband. He can consider this my Christmas present to him. I am generous like that.

The girl likes money and I'm not sure where this is going.

My memory is that it started when she got a piggy bank a few months ago after Capital Mom won a giveaway. "Piggy bank" is a little misleading. It's three colourful metal tins, with plastic lids that have a slot. One for sharing, saving, and spending. We gave her some coins to put in them, and she quickly got the hang of it.

Over the next few weeks, from time to time she'd ask for "moneys". Me or Capitol Mom would dig into our pockets / wallets and give her pennies, nickels, dimes. She'd play with them, drop them, lose them, freak out about dropping or losing them, put them down the heating vents, and forget about them.

She was asking for moneys the other day when I felt a wave of low-level parental anxiety that, by just handing coins over whenever she asked, I was teaching her that money comes without effort, and thereby dooming her to a life of fiscal incompetence. "Hey, dad, I cashed in that stupid RESP and sent it to a Nigerian general who's sitting on a fortune! Can I have $30 to go see a movie?"

So, instead of just giving her the moneys, I introduced the concept of a "chore". I asked her to pick up the three or four stuffed animals on the floor and put them away, and then I gave her the coin.

Since then, she's pretty sharp about the chores. She'll ask for moneys, and I can ask, "what do we do when we want moneys?", and she'll say "chores!". Then, she's pretty happy to do a little tidying in return for a coin.

Moneys can also provide leverage. The other day, I had just given her two moneys for two chores, when she seemed to be about to drop a book down the stairwell. Frustrated, I asked her, "do you know what a fine is?". I explained a fine was when someone took your money away, and that I would fine her for dropping the book. She stopped pushing the book between the slats of the railing and showed me how she was just innocently leaning the book between two slats. Silly, suspicious daddy!

I say that I'm not sure about where this is going, and I mean that two ways. The first is a kind of silly way, where she'll figure out that chores equal moneys, and maybe she'll start refusing to do anything around the house unless she gets moneys, or she'll do unsolicited chores and demand moneys after, or something else we can't even begin to predict.

I think we can deal with that. What I'm really not looking forward to is when "moneys" becomes regular, everyday, money. Right now her moneys are a toy, vitally important one second, discarded or given away the next. But, one day, she'll worry about money, like we do from time to time. How much she has, how much she wants, how much she needs.

Part of growing up is learning how to handle money, and that's what I'm trying to encourage in a small way with the chores. But, in my heart, I'm so glad the coins are just moneys for now.


  1. So sweet and innocent. I think it is important to teach our young the importance of moneys and how to earn it too, all the while having fun and bonding over stuffed animals on the floor!

  2. Lovely post!

    Parenting seems to get more complicated as they get older. I sometime worry that if the issues are so complicated at 3...imagine what they will be at 13!

    We tried to explain sharing a toy for the "Help Santa Toy Parade". We even took our boy to help pick out a toy for a little boy who didn't have a lot of toys.

    "Is he a bad boy?" my son asked.

    "No, why would you think that?" I asked him.

    "Because Santa isn't bringing him any toys."


  3. Brie, way to nice of you to share your blog with your husband, you would never find me doing that ;)

    Money is such a difficult concept for little kids to grasp, I'm just hoping it gets better. Much better.

  4. We started giving my daughter an allowance when she turned 4 almost a year ago. And while she doesn't completely get it yet, she's getting much sharper. It's spending the moneys, or not having ENOUGH of the moneys, that really makes the concept crystal clear. But, I will admit, I have mixed feelings as I watch her absorb the concepts.

  5. I am a TERRIBLE role model when it comes to money...I will definitely use some of your "techniques". Growing up with four mom was the SUPER budgeter, while my dad was the spend thrift! Unfortunately I took after my daddy...but I am trying to be more like my mom as our family has expanded. I did pretty good this year with Christmas shopping, and as my oldest is 7, I have been teaching her the importance of having money, and what you can do when you don't have as much!! Great post!! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!