Feb 06 2012

Talking about money with my 3-year-old


My son Johnny is 3. He has had money on his mind lately, and it’s neat to see how his thinking works. Here’s some snippets from our recent conversations:

“I need to go to work tomorrow,” he told me.


“My money is all gone! I need to get some more money.”

“What will you do with your money?”

“Give it to the people.”

Ahh yes, “the people.” He’s talking about people at stores, I think, though I’m not sure.

“What will the people do with the money you give them?”

“They’ll look at it.” Yep, I guess they will.

He likes to have a coin or two in his pocket on the way to church so he can put it in the offering plate when it comes around. When he happens to find a coin on the ground or in my bathroom or bedroom, he wants to save it until Sunday so he can “give it to God.” Aww!

And the other day, he was talking about Shane and how he goes to work.

“Daddy went to work. He needs to get some more money.”

“Yep, he needs to get more so he can buy more groceries, and get more gas for the car, and buy you more clothes, and more toys…”

He interrupted me there.

“No, I don’t need more toys,” he told me. “We need some more crackers.”

He’s right! He doesn’t need more toys. He has plenty and he’s content with what he has. Yay! He did accept that we need more money so we can buy groceries, because he knows we never have enough crackers to suit him.

As my kids get older, I hope to teach them more about how money works — how it’s earned, how it’s taxed, how to spend less, how it can grow if invested…and on and on. I probably ought to switch to cash for some of my purchases, at least the purchases I make when my kids are along. I prefer debit for so many reasons, but I think they’ll have a better understanding of how money is finite if I use cash.

Posted under Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Talking about money with my 3-year-old”

  1. What a smarty-pants! Roanin likes to put money in the plate at church and in his piggy bank at home, even though he’s never taken any money out of his piggy bank. He’s always on the look out for carts that need returning at Aldis so he can “earn” a quarter! I don’t think he’s old enough (4 years) to start spending money yet. Maybe for his 5th birthday.

  2. Cute! My 3 yr old is also starting to grasp the idea of numbers and money…though he thinks houses cost $20…it’s a big number to him.

    We bought Financial Peace Jr. at Christmas and while we’ve been reading the books and talking about the concepts, we haven’t started doing the commissions for chores. I want to be sure he knows what he’s expected to do as a member of the family first and then we’ll expand to paid chores. I really can’t wait as he loves washing the floor and I’ll be happy to give him a coin or two for each time he does it!

    Also enjoyed the start of your retirement series…great info!

  3. I haven’t looked at Financial Peace Jr.; sounds like it has some good stuff!

    Glad you’re enjoying the retirement series so far.

  4. Neat story. It’s great and rewarding to see that kids – even really young ones – can show signs of making logical choices like that. It’s a topic frequently on my mind with my own kids.

  5. Your son sounds so sweet. When children are so kind-hearted I always pray they stay that way. I think it’s a great idea to use cash more often so your kids can grasp the concept better.

  6. He is SOO sweet! He has more smarts than a lot of adults I know. I wish he stays this way.

  7. He is a sweetie pie! Love that boy.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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