The Piggy Bank: Money management tips from children
It’s remarkable how less exciting the concept of money becomes as you age; for adults, it’s a burden that plagues us daily with its hair-pulling, insomnia-inducing wrath. But for most children, a few dollars is a precious commodity used almost exclusively for purchases involving sugary red dye No. 40 or toys padlocked with zip-ties.
That’s the case for siblings Owen, 7, and Ellie, 8, who look forward to Sundays every week, the day when their $6 allowance tickles their hands and imaginations.
The two shared with me their experience with receiving allowance, expressing their income, savings, charitable givings and job descriptions without the slightest reservation. I’m not ready to make them my go-tos for advice on 401Ks, but they did offer a refreshing take on money management that reminded me maybe it should be just as simple as saving up for the ice cream man every once in awhile.
Her Kansas City: What do you do with your allowance every week?
Ellie: We give 10 percent to the church every week. That’s 60 cents! We put it in the giving envelope.
H: Where do you guys keep all your money?
E: We keep it in the bank and in bags. One bag is spend, one says save and one is give.
H: So if you could go out and spend everything that’s in your spending jar right now, what would you get?
E: One of those electric scooters. They’re $130.
Owen: Probably a remote-control helicopter and some Legos. Oh, wait! A big, GREEN remote control helicopter. It’s only $100. But I don’t think I’ll buy it. I’m wishing for it for Christmas.
H: That’s pretty expensive. That doesn’t sound like too much to you?
O: No. It’s easy to save up.
H: Really? I find that hard to believe. Don’t you see things that you want all the time?
O: No. Not anymore. I used to, but now I just want to keep saving. Now I want to earn money and keep it and not spend it and lose all my money.
H: Has that ever happened before? Where you spend all your money on one thing?
O: Yeah, I got $106 and I spent it all on a Lego castle and I lost it all.
H: What kinds of things do you have to use your allowance for?
E: The ice cream truck. I always use my spending money when the ice cream truck comes around. But last time I didn’t get it because I didn’t want to spend my money.
H: Are there things that you have to use your allowance for, besides the ice cream truck?
E: Yeah, maybe if I get nail polish in the carpet like I did I think I might have to pay for the carpet.
H: OK, what about if you had $1,000 on top of everything you’ve already saved?
O: I would buy nothing. I would keep it and so I could keep saving. I would put it in the bank so I could save up for a car.
E: I think I would maybe buy a lot of jewelry.
O: But Ellie, then you would lose all of your richness!
H: What kind of chores would you do to try to get mom to give you more money?
O: I would clean the entire kitchen and the bathroom. And every single thing in the downstairs. And then get $10 for it. I can do it. I would organize dad’s desk!
H: What’s your least favorite chore?
O: Probably cleaning the toilets. But Lucy* actually really likes cleaning the toilets. Sometimes we have minty toilet spray, and Lucy loves to stick her face in the toilet and smell it.
H: What do you think about kids who do a lot of chores, but don’t get allowance because their parents can’t afford to give it to them? Is that fair?
O: No, that’s not fair. Because then you do hard work and you don’t get any reward.
E: But it may not be money. Maybe it will be like an extra dessert or something.
* Lucy, 3, is Ellie and Owen’s little sister. Her schedule was booked with coloring and she was unavailable for comment.