Monday, January 9, 2012
We have this plastic jug that's about 12 inches tall. It used to be part of a Hello Kitty water dispenser, but E.'s mom rightly pointed out a while back that it was probably full of BPA, so we converted into a loose change collector. That was years ago, and the jug just recently got super-full. I was going to take it to our grocery store and dump the thing into a CoinStar machine, but then I remembered reading a blog post one time about how this was basically throwing money away because CoinStar keeps a percentage of your coins just for counting them, and also you have no way of knowing if they count correctly. I also remember rolling coins as a kid with my brother, and that we enjoyed doing that. So when we were at the bank last week I asked for some coin rolls and they gave us a stack.
I proposed to the family that we roll the coins and that we use half of the total money on a gift for ourselves--maybe a new Play Station game, or a night out eating--and that we all agree on a charity to give the other half to.
Here's why I like the exercise from a parenting angle:
We give the kids allowance every week (when we can remember), but if the girls don't put the coins into their piggy banks immediately, they get strewn about the house like play money. Appropriate for Nolie's age, probably, but not for Addie's. Addie has really strong saving instincts already, so I want to nurture that. Both girls have savings accounts for birthday money and saved allowance, and we also allow them to buy things on occasion.
But neither really understands that actual, physical money translates into purchasing power. So my hope is that, over time, as they help me count and roll these coins, and then we both purchase something with it and give some away to others, they'll start to connect the fact of coins and its value as currency. Maybe also they'll learn about spending and giving? Then, maybe, they'll pick up a penny and deposit into the BPA jar instead of just throwing it around or leaving it on the ground.
Because you know what? Those coins add up. We're only 1/3 of the way through the jar and we've got $44. That's a lot! Ostensibly by the end we could have around $150, which translates into a couple of dinners at Noodles for all of us, and $75 to give to an organization we choose.
This may not mean a lot to them now, but my hope is it grows on them over time. Maybe wishful thinking. Especially seeing as "real" money doesn't seem to have tons of value now that everything's plasticized. But I can hope.
An OCD side benefit: your fingers get disgustingly dirty from rolling coins, so maybe they'll learn not to put that shit in their mouths.
Another OCD benefit: all those similarly shaped round things neatly stacked. Very nice. So soothing.