Soon after Emily turned five, we started a money jar system with her (recognize them, Julie?). Every week she receives a letter in the mail from Grandpa Lorenzen with some stickers and a dollar bill. Using a roll of quarters from the bank, each week Emily trades in the dollar for four quarters. One goes in Save, one goes in Give and two go in Spend. This was a bit difficult for her to grasp at first. She kept wanting her dollars back. She also didn't have much of a concept of what each jar was for. This past week we had a little money lesson where she traded back quarters from each jar in exchange for dollar bills. Then we talked some more about what each jar was for. I told Emily she could take some money out of her Spend jar and go to Wal-mart with me. That's where the really money lesson took place.
Emily carefully put $1.25 into a little purse thing, and it immediately started burning a hole. After picking up a few things I needed, we headed to the toy section. Emily very quickly learned the value (or lack thereof) of a dollar. She kept asking how much different things were and was visibly disappointed with the answers, "$17, $23, $28, $32..." There were a couple boxes of dollar items, but all were complete junk. Emily was pretty crestfallen until we passed the party aisle. There was a whole row of cheap party favors for $.97. Emily excitedly picked out some sparkly jewel rings. She was almost equally as excited to receive two dimes and a penny in change after paying for it.
As expected, two out of the eight rings broke within the first hour. She tried wearing the rest to preschool, but I made her choose only one for each hand. They are now residing in her new jewelry box. I'm sure this is only the beginning of many lessons learned about making good buying decisions.
P.S. Emily is now saving for a toy guitar to replace one that broke several months ago. And she can't wait to bring her Give money to Sunday school on Sunday.