Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meet Sir Frugal, Jr.

Mama!  Today I earned a BONUS penny!

Really, why?

Hmmm, I don't remember.  But I got a bonus one!

So how many pennies do you have now?

About 80.

Wow! What are you going to spend it on?

Hmmmmm, I don't know, but I will at some point.  You know, some kids are really bad with their pennies, they have like 10.

Sir Frugal, Jr. -- always an intense thinker.

For context, this was a snippet of the after school talk I had with my six year old son.  His kindergarten teacher operates a penny reward system.  On a daily basis kids earn one or two pennies for a day of good work and or behavior.  Excellent behavior leads to a bonus penny.  And you guessed it, bad behavior results in a fine.  Every now and then the teacher opens up her "store", allowing the kids to use their pennies to make purchases.

And to think last year my husband and I paid private school tuition, at school with soured with us after 13 days, and down the road was our free public school brimming with brilliance.  The Penny Store -- oh I adore thee.

First, it is a great introduction to math in the real world.  Second, it connects behavior to something tangible.  Third, it provides real world experience for kids on the use of money -- giving them a chance to make foolish decisions, from which wisdom emerges.  And fourth, it works from what I can see -- kids gauge their behavior because of those pennies.  My only concern? Hoping my apparently frugal son will actually spend some of those pennies.  Having a stash is nice, but one cannot savor certain aspects of life without making a purchase.  For now, I delight in his restraint and discipline.

My point today -- it is never too early to help children learn about money.  Just like drugs and sex, it is out there, they'll be exposed to it, and you want them to be able to talk with you about decisions they made and what happened.  Learn these lessons young, not in your 30s and 40s with mortgages, student loans and credit cards -- when the consequences are much higher.

If you are local (Dane County, Wisconsin) and what to enhance your money management skills, consider the offerings at UW Extension Financial Education Center.  Not local?  Turn to Google and plug in Extension Money Management to find a resource in your area.

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