Advancing Past Child-Like Views on Money

by TTMK on September 9, 2013 · 3 comments

So I was at the bank recently with my son, having to deposit a check.  Which, in itself, is a rarity.  How often do you get paper checks anymore?

The drive-up wasn’t working so I actually went into the bank.  The last time I actually set foot in this bank was probably 3 or 4 months prior, so clearly I don’t visit this place too often.  My son was with me that time too.

Which is noteworthy to me, because after I got done with the transaction he told me he needed something.  Now, given that he’s still in pre-school, there isn’t much he would actually need in a bank!  But he asked me a couple of times, and when I asked what it was he wanted, he just said “something”.

I thought about it some, and then realized that the last time I was at the bank, he got a lollipop.  It’s funny how sharp some kids’ memories are, especially when it comes to treats!  I mean, it was 3 or 4 months ago that he was last in that place yet he still remembered.  Kids are sponges, they absorb more than you think.

Well, unfortunately for him there weren’t any lollipops there.  As I scanned the place further, I noticed that they didn’t have their complimentary coffee available either.  Actually, the whole table where the coffee had been was no longer there! Have to admit, I did like that complimentary coffee they had 🙂

So, I had to tell him that both he and I won’t be getting treats at the bank this time.  He of course asked “why?”, and I told him that the bank didn’t have these things any more because they must be trying to save money.

Again, came the “why” question.  To which I responded, “so they can keep more money for themselves”.  Again, another “why” question came – and I answered “so they just have more”.

He didn’t get that part.  He asked me if they want to have more money so they can buy something, to which I said no – they really just want to have more money.  That was followed up by a question about why they want money just to have it.  This might seem like a lot of questions, but for a parent it’s fun to figure out how your child is thinking.

Anyway, it did get me thinking though.  As a kid, he seemed to connect keeping money with being able to spend it on things.  When I introduced the idea that they wanted money just to have more, it didn’t make sense to him.

My first instinct was to think, you know – maybe there is some common sense there.  Money is worth something because of what it can buy!

Then, I realized that as grown-ups, we have the capacity for evolved thinking.  We realize that we just don’t save money just so we can spend it on specific things.  We save, sometimes, just to have money.  It might not be earmarked for anything specific, but we realize that the more we have the better.  Money can provide security, and degrees of freedom even when our basic needs are met.

Yet, there are many folks that don’t see this.  They see money as something that not only pays the bills but also is there primarily for buying toys, dream houses, and luxury vacations.  If it’s there, spend it!  They think it’s not necessarily something that we need to keep for other reasons, like security and freedom as I mentioned above.

Really, it’s almost like many people simply have views of money that are almost child-like.  Just like the conversation I had about lollipops at the bank, a conversation with these folks might be along those lines in some way.  They don’t get it.

Maybe, to prevent people from being stuck in childhood with their views on money, it’s vital to start kids with money lessons as early as possible.  Teaching kids about money can help then grow and advance their thinking, so that they are able to make sound and smart financial decisions later in life!

My Questions for You

Have you ever met any people who just don’t seem to have developed any real financial thinking?

What do you think is a good age to start teaching money lessons to kids?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Edward Antrobus September 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm

But you are still proposing that money is meant to be spent on things. For you, however, those things are related to financial security. At the end of the day, I could care less about having money. I want the things that saving money affords me, like being able to take care of an emergency, replace things that wear out, and paying my bills. But the actual money, whatever. If I was instantly transported into the future into the society of Star Trek, I would be perfectly fine with living in a world where money was no longer used. You can’t take it with you!


TTMK September 9, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Hmmm…I can see where you might interpret the comment that way. However, while financial security might entail spending later, it also involves having the security to handle life’s uncertainties as well as the certainty of not working eventually. At least for most of us, it will not be possible to work until very old age.


Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter September 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I think that child-like views on money can be important lessons, too. Why have money just to have it? In reality, there’s no point. I mean, save for the future and make sure you have a good emergency fund, that your bills are paid and you can meet your goals, but after that, money is a tool to enjoy life.


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