Recently Pirate and I had a conversation that went like this:
Pirate: When we go to Target, I need a new train!
Me: Pirate, I am not buying you a new train today.
Pirate: I need a new train!
Me: If you want a new train, you're going to have to earn money and buy it yourself.
Pirate: Okay. I learn money. How do I learn money?
I love how he heard "learn" instead of "earn" because money management is something we want him to learn, and early in life too. He was highly motivated so I jumped on the opportunity.
Ironically, I did end up buying trains that day. Thomas was buy one get one half-off and Thomas sales are few and far between. So, I let him pick out two trains and explained he wouldn't get to have them until he could pay me for them. He understood.
It was time for me to pull this out of the closet. I picked some "chores" that are less "chore" and more "I need him to begin making this a habit" things. We went over each item on the list, and at the end of the day we'd let him count out and apply the "stickers" he had earned.
He was excited about the stickers, but he wasn't seeing how the stickers were "learning" him money.
Then the week was up, and we all sat down at the table together and told him it was time for him to learn money.
I explained to him that each sticker on his chart was worth a nickel. I told him I'd give him a nickel for every sticker. So while we traded nickels for stickers, Hubs took this picture off Pirate's bedroom wall and propped it up on the table.
Hubs explained to Pirate (now hugging a pile of nickels) that all we have has been given to us by the Lord, and that means that what we have isn't really ours, it's His. He's happy for us to have -but He asks us to give 10% back to Him, and this is called tithing, and it's important for us to pay our tithing.
So Hubs counted out 10 of Pirate's nickels and to make it really visual for his 3-year-old brain, we gave one nickel for every 10 right to Jesus. (Then we put them in a ziplock on the fridge labeled "Tithing Money.")
Then we pulled out the Rosie Train and the Henry Train that he picked out at Target. We priced Rosie at $4 and Henry at $6.75. I drew out another visual for him.
We exchanged his nickels for quarters. Then we went and got his Tigger bank and counted out ALL of his money, turning lots, LOTS of pennies and nickels and dimes into quarters. We filled as many of those circles as we could with quarters. It added to $4.75.
We showed him Rosie, and told him he had enough money for Rosie that day if he wanted to buy Rosie first, but if he wanted Henry he had to wait and do more chores and earn more money. He wanted Henry and was willing to wait.
So we put Henry up on the shelf, with his price tag displayed.
All week he looked up at Henry and talked about "learning" his money. All week he was quick to respond to my requests to get dressed, and put away the silverware, and clean up his toys. Every night he was so excited to count out his stickers.
Today, we did it all over again.
Today, he had enough quarters to fill all of the circles.
This is one happy, proud-of-himself kid.
We're proud of him too.