Financial Lessons in Change

AUTHOR: | POSTED: February 11, 2011 | COMMENTS: None Yet - Post a Comment
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly, Education, Tags: , , ,

Sean Savage

I believe in imparting financial lessons on children starting at a very young age.  Saving is a habit that can be taught young and one that will prove essential in ones financial development as an adult.  Carolyn and I are following the old and time-tested rules that we learned from our parents with our own children. And opportunities to learn can happen with just a few pennies. Sometimes with a little more.

Savage home confession: we’re hoarders.

Of coins, that is. I have a coin box in my top dresser drawer, Carolyn has one in the laundry room and our family has one in the kitchen. 

Recently Ryan and Drew noticed that these containers were overflowing. What better to do on a cold Saturday in February in Toledo than to count coins?  So they dumped all of the coins on Drew’s bedroom floor and declared after a lengthy process that there were simply too many to count by hand. So I made them a deal: find an alternative counting method, and they could.  split the money 50/50.  Of course, half of their take would need to go to their bank accounts (a longstanding rule.)  And the other rule they know all too well is once the funds go to the bank they cannot be withdrawn.

After a bit of research, the boys discovered there was a coin counting machine in a local grocery store.  What better to do on during the ride to the store than to place a bet on who can guess the total dollar amount of coins?  Ryan let Drew and I guess first to better gauge his strategy and chances for victory. Ryan has good street sense.  Drew’s guess was $90, me $93, and Ryan $93.01.  Ryan had just deployed an excellent Price is Right strategy.

 Now I have never paid close attention to these coin machines, but since we live in America, I knew the service was not going to be free.  The fine print gave us two options: pay a 9 cent/dollar charge to get cash or receive the full value as a gift card for a selected retailer. No better time  to talk to the kids about reasonable and unreasonable commissions and service charges.  This fell into the unreasonable category and they should not give up $9.00 out of $100 for a service which provides very little value.    We decided to get a gift card for a retailer we use all the time and in return, I would get the kids cash in the same amount for their bank account deposit and spending money.

It took us nearly thirty minutes to get the coins to be counted by the machine.  Of course, it didn’t help that the coins were mixed in with erasers, old earrings, Chucky Cheese coins and other random objects that damn near shut the machine down.  We did draw a few gawkers including a greeter at the store and some shoppers.  I used that as an opportunity to remind the boys that when handling such a volume of money, they should keep their eyes and ears alert in the event any of these onlookers had any bad intentions.  Fortunately, the crowd was simply marveling at the crazy exercise.

Well the total was $167.59 and of course, Ryan won the bet.  So my next lesson of the day was about betting, which was  really just me advising them not to bet for money in the future as our guesses were really not even close, and if there were other players, we’d all be out.

Any story can have a dark side, and  of course one showed up on in our home. Our two-year-old Mary Kate decided her new favorite thing would be to fill her piggybank with money.  But now there was no change anywhere! Carolyn dug out every coin she had left in her purse and car for MK.  However, it was very little.  So Carolyn has to stop what she is doing to empty the piggy after MK fills it, all so MK can start again.  This exercise is repeated no less than a dozen times per day.  The lesson here, I think, is to always keep some spare change in the house.  My dad used to take this to an extreme and always carried $2,000 on him at all times (no, not in coins.)  His reasoning was simple: if he got robbed, the robber would be happy to be receiving such a sum of money and that happy people do not shoot. Ergo, the robber would not shoot him.

And that, friends, you can take all the way to the bank.

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