Teaching toddlers about money

Taormina has always been fascinated by small stones and coins. In fact she is obsessed by them. At her age now (2 and a half), she’s less interested in stones but more so, she’s into coins.

These can be plastic toys or real coins. She even goes through Poppy’s friends handbags to find loose change (I taught her to pick pocket really). We tell people not to give her any because it is their money plus coins are known for being absolutely filthy. Never the less, she seems to come home with loads like she’s been out knocking on doors car washing!

Her new vital possessions do cause a few issues at home because she wants them at the table when we’re having dinner which we don’t allow because they’re dirty and she  washes her hands before eating and when she’s napping she wants to hold them. God forbid if she wakes up and there’s one less than there was before because it’s slipped down somewhere and isn’t in eyesight.

When I’m putting Taormina to bed (which is a long process!), we like to reflect on our day and have a little talk. Recently I said I went to work and she asked why. I said I have to go to work to earn coins and money so I can buy things like food, clothes and pay for days out. She looked at me and said she wanted to go on holiday. So I very innocently said “well if you save enough coins, you’ll be able to pay for our holiday”. Innocent sentence but to a toddler, this could back fire on me because this girl is like an elephant, she never forgets!

She then started telling people she’s saving her coins so she can go on holiday. I do like the ethics of this but she might get a little disappointed because she wants to go to Mickey Mouse land aka Disney World. She’s going to be saving for some time!

Not long ago we were in Bills Restaurant for brunch and I got some coins out to pay a tip. This was instant regret because the magpie Taormina clocked them straight away and she was also being very demanding during eating and almost unbearable at the end of the meal so I thought I’d give the coins to her, to quite frankly shut her the hell up! Again, instant regret, because how was I suppose to take them off her? The waiter had been very good, friendly and quick to out demands. We tend to give a 10% tip at meals but this will vary depending how good they’ve been. All I ask for is keep me hydrated and don’t keep me waiting. When you’re eating a meal out with a toddler and baby, 5 minutes seems like half an hour! This waiter had done perfectly.

I tried asking for the money from Taormina without success. So I explained to her that the man had been working very hard and has done a good job so the coins are for him so he can save for his holiday. She immediately changed her possessive stance which is similar to a Spartan guard, to wanting to personally give the coins to the man. So we went and found him and she handed him the money.


This simple little exercise was a nice life lesson for our toddler and she now likes handing over the tip and always says they need it for their holiday.
It is very important to me that my children understand the value of money and appreciate where it comes from and how you earn it.

What helped Taormina understand which we also discuss occasionally was the day she came to work with me. I had an emergency call out. Poppy just had Wolfie and she had some sort of flu / virus and couldn’t get out of bed so I decided Taormina would come to work with me. She had a whale of a time. My client enjoyed her company and we had lunch together. I explained what I was doing which gave her great insight into what “work” is because previously, god know what she though I do when I leave the house early every morning!

I am one of four siblings. I’m the second eldest and growing up my parents didn’t have massive amounts of money at all particularly when my older sister and I were younger. My dad’s building business was doing well when the two youngest two were born so they certainly had more in the way of materialistic items and fancy holidays. Don’t get me wrong, my older sister and I had more than we needed but we didnt things like have branded clothes like the other kids at school.

I didn’t want my parents to spend any unnecessary amounts on me because I was mindful that they couldn’t afford it. I even told my mum I didn’t like activities she got me doing so it didn’t cost her.

I’m glad I had my childhood experiences because it helped motivate me to do well, go out and earn money and make a career for myself. I’ve always been independent and done things my way without worrying about being financially attached to anybody which is a valuable life lesson.

It dawned on me recently that it must be confusing for a lot of children in the UK because we all tend to use cards for everything due to ease of technology like contactless and Apple pay. It’s seems like real hassle getting cash out these days so I for one don’t tend to bother unless it’s necessary.

Coins and notes are physical objects so to a toddler they just can see they have more regardless at the value of each coin or note (PS, I don’t give me toddler notes). Where as a primary school child would need to understand the maths much more to understand how much they have in cash or in the bank.

I am going to ensure I personally teach my two children the maths side of money and the  understanding. We don’t splash out on toys willy nilly, but I will make a spreadsheet or chart which can be understood to see how much they have. They will be rewarded with things such as doing chores and being well behaved so they can see how much they have and how much things cost. This way they can learn the maths and that if they save, they can buy bigger things. Hopefully it will also help them understand good value for money.

I will let you know I get on with that!

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