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Beyond Piggy Banks and Allowance

Updated on August 19, 2013

Children Can Learn To Budget

When I decided to start having children, which was almost twenty-three years ago, I saw that Dollar stores were the new way to shop. the new way to budget. The name "Five and Dime", "penny candy stores", and discount department stores were around when I was a child. Thrift stores were also becoming popular in my late teens. My mom never wanted to shop in them. But when I became responsible for my shopping decisions, I tried the discount shopping out. At first, my parents gave a negative reaction to the idea I bought things from the Dollar stores, but without any disdain, I shopped carefully for products that would be suitable for my then young family.

Some Dollar stores may call themselves "Dollar stores" but really they are more like discount stores with every product you could think of at a discount price. So reading price tags is important before you buy. And make sure you understand the products have labels in multiple languages. As you know, the United States is a melting pot of nations. It is this writer's belief that these stores want to cater to many nationals who still strive to communicate in there own language.This writer's children have been shopping in the Dollar stores since they were the age of two. It was an easy place to treat them if they were bored or if they deserved a reward. My son knew that he could get his favorite toys at the dollar store, but had the habit of demanding them in a very loud way if I was busy shopping for necessities. Of course, the toys were thrifty and did not compare to the commercialized toy products on the market. We would end up having "yard sales" to sell what the children did not play with after the toys would accumulate.


My Mother bought each of us a glass bank in the shape of a pig to save our coins in.The glass became charred away at the coin entrance. It is the kind you have to turn upside down and continue to shake until all the change falls out. As an adult I found its price sticker which had faded over the years. I could make out the price. My Mom paid 63 cents for it back around the year 1963. Wow! I really like it because it is an amber color and there is texture to the glass with real facial features such as eyes, nostrils and embedded in the posterior end of the bank is the piggy's tail.

My children have had various coin banks, only because their relatives are very generous over the years. My son would save every coin he could ever find. He even saved all his gift money, never wanting to spend it. (Maybe that is why he is studying to be an Accountant.) As my son is getting close to turning twenty, he now knows how to shop for prices of all the things he wants to buy for his pleasure, thanks to the internet.

My daughter and son are so different when it comes to saving and spending. Even at the young age of four, my daughter knew what a shopping catalog was like. Thanks to GrandMama, she learned how to pick out colors of clothing, write down sizes and circle page numbers. This is how she kept busy when she was with GrandMama. And she must have been paying attention when she would sit in the front of the shopping cart. Now as a young adult, she knows how to save and what stores are the best for bargains, in any kind of product.Now my daughter shops at the discount stores, buys bulk and goes to thrift stores, even when she is out of town.


I felt I was left out in another room when it seemed necessary to learn how to budget. I would go to sales. I would save my earnings from my part time jobs as a teenager but I never had the whole banking thing explained to me as a youth. I prayed when I decided to have children that they would not struggle as much as me to understand how to balance the bank book, how to put away for "rainy day" so to speak.

But some people learn from their mistakes, and become wiser in understanding the value of money all through life. So it is good to talk to your children as they learn what their allowance is worth, and what is important to save it for and how to spend it wisely.

My Dad had us keep a notebook listing all our chores, mark down how long it took to do the chores, and then would pay by the hour, say perhaps a quarter to a dollar, depending on what it was. I was keen: I thought the longer I took to do a chore, the more quarters I could get. But that just annoyed my mother even more, so I had to learn to be faster.

I tried to do the same with my kids, but of course, probably due to inflation during this life of a new generation, their allowance was not earned the same way. Their grandparents have also been very helpful with the children's reward.

I remember my most favorite episodes of The Cosby Show was when Theo was discussing with his Dad how much money he needed to live on his own. We all need to see those episodes. It offers a good demonstration how children could leave out the necessities in life when planning ahead, and they need mentoring adult to lead them.


Counting coins with the younger children can be an educational game. So include time in your busy week, parents, so that they will learn. Show them how fun it is to learn how to count, to save, and to put it into practice to think about where their money is going.

Also be honest with the children about the household bills and parental spending. It will give them an understanding later on in life,.


I often wondered when I was growing up why my teachers would not teach valuable lessons in saving and earning money. If the educational programs would start teaching in the third year of primary school, the concepts of spending then I think children would not be so greedy when they want their parents to buy them something.

A big misconception when I was growing up was that I was from a rich family because my Dad was a physician. The truth was that my Dad worked day and night , he would come home from work to eat dinner. He would have just enough time to eat, bathe, and snooze and then redress to go back again. My Mom did not go back to work until my brothers and I were in high school. Yes, we did have more luxuries growing up, but my Dad worked hard for it. And Dad did not hide it from us. We tolerated his schedule, but his goals were accomplished by sending us to the finest private schools, and he took us on the best vacations. I had to rely on my parents for money. Working at the age of sixteen was actually an option. When I graduated from high school that's when I finally learned how to set up a bank account, balance a check book and understand the importance of saving. Then I felt ready to have a job out in the real world.

If I were given an option to vote for the schools to have training in finance, I am sure I would not be alone in my position. I asked my daughter, did she have any educational training in primary, middle level, or high school on how to manage finances, and she said "NO".


Another good program on television about families was "Family Ties" . In this program the oldest son, Alex P. Keaton is teaching his youngest brother how to read the Wall Street Journal. I believe that the individuals who understand the stock market have a very high intelligence in discerning Financial Future. So if a young person catches on early, then it will help them find a place in the economy of today.

My daughter and my Mom would always talk about the charitable organizations such as "Save the Children" or "Save the Endangered Animals". If children gain global awareness, then they will be more willing to strive for a better economy, and thus their children to come will be in better shape because they have become more knowledgeable.


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    • CMCastro profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina M. Castro 

      8 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Hey Ritchie aka richtwf, Thank you so much for your outstanding comments. Our hubs I think are joined at the hip. I am glad you love this hub. What inspired me was a flash back memory of my Mom, Mama, as my son and daughter call her, gave them these coin banks that divide their coins up into denomination. And the hub took off. As a result of their home-training, my son is a saver, and my daughter now enjoys shopping in thrift stores (after years of shopping on line only to find out how expensive it was)Of course, my son will save up to buy an expensive musical instrument or to put a new tatoo on his arm, then say, 'Mom I need new clothes.' Age has to do with it, and he will learn to be more wise as he gains life experience. Anyway thanks for enjoying my hub and I hope you find your way to reading about Bloody Jack. I tweeked the title just now so you could find it. CMC aka Christina

    • richtwf profile image


      8 years ago

      I actually came over here to seek out 'Bloody Jack'! But I find myself reading something else very close to my heart (like many others things to countless to mention!) and that is the subject of financial intelligence or being money smart.

      This excellent hub, brimming with great tips and very sound advice, resonated with me and it's great that you've shared this advice with us. I do hope that more hubbers and outside readers take the time to read this because finance and money is a very basic and important part of our lives.

      Being able to manage ou finances responsibly should start at a very young age and I absolutely agree with you that money matters should be taught and learnt at a very young age and not left totally for parents to instruct their children, but to have this responsibility shared. It is a real travesty to allow children to enter the world not financially-savvy and for them to learn through personal experience - this is the hard way and is totally unacceptable.

      In this modern day of relentless and alluring advertising, this stokes many people's desire for material objects, and not understanding how to manage and budget your money responsibly is a rich recipe asking for disaster. Many youngsters don't understand credit cards and how the interest works and just spend and spend their month's salary even before they've even received it! This is certainly a sad fact of the past but does it still reflect now, especially in our rough economic times - that I don't know but would hope it's less reflective of the past.

      Thanks for sharing these thoughts CM for a great hub. Voted up and awesome!

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 

      8 years ago from Bangalore,India

      Excellent hub! A must read for all parents and teachers.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for a really down to earth common sense hub.


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