Money Understanding And Generosity From A 3-Year Old

Every now and then you wonder if the stuff you’re trying to teach your kids is actually getting through.  A lot of times you see progress, but a lot of times you don’t and you wonder if you are missing the mark on certain things.

The other day, a pretty cool thing happened.  Probably the coolest thing that happened all week, and it validated, at least for an instant, that we’re hitting home on a couple of things.

Cider and Donuts Time

mb-2014-10ciderWe’ve had a nice late October warm spell recently.  Here in Michigan, that generally means temps around the 60’s and maybe even 70.  The past weekend was nice, as was Monday, so we decided to hit the local cider mill for apple cider and donuts.  This cider mill has been around for over 150 years, so they know what they’re doing!

We got everybody gathered up and were heading out to the car, when my 3-year old daughter came out of the house after having put her shoes on (and on the right feet this time, yay!) and she had a dollar bill in her hand.  We had a family Halloween party last Friday and each of the kids ended up with a few dollars as part of their treat bags.

I told her that she should go put her money back in the house so that she wouldn’t lose it, and she told me “No.  I want to pay!”  I asked her to repeat herself, and she confirmed that she wanted to pay for cider and donuts!

That was so cool.

The whole way to the cider mill, she kept a hold of her dollar, and kept it as we stood in line. As we got to the register and ordered, she put her dollar up on.  She wanted to pay!

(For the record, we snuck the dollar back off the counter and will be putting it back in her piggy bank).

That showed me that she’s learning two key lessons:

  • Generosity – She knows that is her money and she was willing to give it up for something fun for our family.  That’s a great display of generosity and kindness that is often not seen with children that young.  Both of our kids have big hearts and it’s always a nice reminder when you see it on display like this.
  • Money – We talk through basic concepts about money, that I go to work to earn money, that you need money to pay for things, and that different types of money hold different values, and that things cost different amounts.  To see that she’s grasping the fact that in order for us to get cider and donuts, we would have to spend money, that was a great feeling as a parent, and it shows we’re on target.  Now we just need to keep it that way.

Readers, how have your little ones surprised you when it comes to money or life lessons?

11 thoughts on “Money Understanding And Generosity From A 3-Year Old”

  1. Kids always surprise me, but there are very instances when they want to pay. As they get older (when they get a job), it is much more often. It is really gratifying when they pick up a lunch or dinner occasionally.

  2. Cute story! My 15 month old is a little too young to understand that yet. There was one time when my wife and I took her little cousins out…and one of the sisters would always ask to buy this or that at the store. Her younger sister who was like 4 at the time said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” It’s funny how 2 sisters…same genes and upbringing have such different feelings regarding money.

  3. My son is a constant target of my financial lessons…..many of them seem to sink in. I’m hoping that they stick into adulthood…. It’s amazing what kids soak up, even when you think they’re not paying attention.

  4. That’s a cool story, and I know how gratifying it is when you see your own child display maturity with money at a young age. It’s great for the child, and nice for parents to see that a good example has been followed. I’m sure you’re proud.

    When I hear my oldest talk about not wanting to buy something because it’s expensive (especially if it’s modestly priced in reality), it feels reassuring. What’s been even better is the generosity aspect, where she has been proactively willing to spend to give to someone in need or do something for a friend/family member.

  5. Awesome story. You’re clearly raising her with the right priorities and it must be a great feeling to know that your parenting will help her adopt good habits and to understand money as she grows up. Kids need this kind of guidance from their parents.

  6. I believe parents can feel when and know what to tell what kids deserve to know. As much and soon as possible, kids need to know the value of money.

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