The Maiden’s first introduction to financial responsibility began last summer. Appalled that our just-turned-three-year-old knew how to “swipe the card” at checkout, and thought that if you wanted money to buy something you could just “go to the bank and they will give it to you,” the Man and I decided to teach her about money and savings. To aid in this financial adventure, we bought a Hello Kitty bank.
At first, the bank was a novelty that sat on her bookshelf and looked cute. Then it became a favored playmate and went on promenades in the doll stroller and was found in bizarre corners of the house. Then it was confiscated, as I wasn’t especially keen on picking ceramic kitty bits out of the carpet.
Recently, however, the Maiden has expressed an interest in using the bank for its proper purpose. When she receives money as a gift or finds change on the ground (or in the car, or in our wallets if we don’t put them up high), she asks if she can put it in her bank. Last night, the Man and I, excited by this new development, began discussing the best way to teach her about saving up, and whether or how we should let her spend it. Should we encourage her to save up for a specific item or event? Should we help her divide her savings into short- and long-term goals? Is she too young to start saving for college so that we don’t have to shell out when she’s eighteen in order to teach her long-term fiscal responsibility?
As it turned out, the Maiden knew far, far better than us the true value of money.
Today, as we were driving home, the Maiden discovered a dime in her carseat. After the obligatory five-minute argument over whether it was, or not, actually a quarter, she asked if she could put it in her Hello Kitty bank.
“Sure!” I said. Then I paused, and added, “You’re doing a good job saving your money in the bank like a big girl. What are you thinking you might want to do with it?”
Her reply floored me. I was expecting Disney dolls or something similarly plastic and annoying. Instead, she answered, “I want to give it to people who don’t have any money. I will go from door to door and ask people if they don’t have money, and if they don’t have any, I will give it to them.”
Sometimes, I think kids can teach us more than we can teach them.