I'm a firm believer that it's never too early to start teaching kids about money. I have 3 kids (5,4,2) and we have recently started working with the older 2 in more depth. Up to this point we've been putting their money that they have earned and received into clear banks so that they could see their money grow. As it reached x amount of dollars it went to the bank and they were allowed a certain amount of it to spend.
We have decided to take it one step further. Have you noticed when you give young kids money, they tend to lose it wherever they go? It ends up washed in pockets, lost in the street or tucked into couch cushions or on the floor in the car. I purchased a tub of pretend but sturdy money at the local teacher supply store (shown in the photo above) and now whenever they are given money, I take it straight away* and give them the fake money equivalent. (This is just if we are out at a grandparents house or such.)
Once at home they put it into their clear banks. (Better to do this instead of real money, because they would tend to shake the banks just to play with the money. As soon as the money went in, we would take out the piece of paper that was in there and tally up the total in case they got into it or it spilled over. When we have more time ( I try to do this every night they get money) we sit together and add up the money in the clear bank and put into their 'check book register' (Shown in the photo below). I found these pretend check books at the dollar store. We keep track of all of their money in these. WHENEVER we go out of the house, I pop their checkbooks into my purse and when they want something they need to check if they have enough money. This is a GREAT way for them to learn that not everything is free.
If they decide to go ahead and make the purchase, I pay for it myself, but take the receipt and tuck it into their checkbooks. When we get home at the end of the day, we all sit together (the entire family) and look at what was spent. Each child must write out their own checks (They just need to know how to spell things, but they can write). They write the store it came from and then sign it and the amount, just like a REAL check. They tear it out, staple it to the receipt and give it to me.
Next, we get their banks and take the money OUT of the bank*, so they know that it's physically gone. We then update the register as well (GREAT way of incorporating math). The children now think twice about wanting stuff and when ANYTHING is in the cart, they ALWAYS ask if mommy is paying for it!
I'm hoping to raise fiscally responsible children that understand the value of the dollar and how hard people work for money. At young ages they do chores already to earn their money. (Helping make beds, clear and whipe down tables, wash the baseboards etc.) Please share your money saving ideas as well!
*All money we take from them (even if spent) is put straight into their savings accounts.