My sister started a piggy bank for my little one, Aurora when she was a baby. It all began when my sister brought a quite unconventional pharmaceutical promotional gift home from the hospital she used to work in. It was a plastic piggy bank. I didn’t find the practicality in it but I must say that it was a nice break from the proverbial pens that did nothing but clutter our fridge top and counter spaces. My sister started putting whatever loose change she had. The coins were not deposited on a regular basis but she made sure she puts whatever coins she had whenever she can. I made my humble contributions, too albeit not habitually. Later on, she decided that the piggy bank is for Aurora. And we still continue to do it and now that Aurora is bigger, she gets to put her “moneys” in there herself. Now don’t ask me how Aurora earns her moneys. That’s another subject altogether.
When we go to stores and Aurora sees something she wants, I always remind her that she has a piggy bank filled with money we can use to buy things and toys that she wants. Last Christmas, her piggy got filled and we took the coins to the bank and she witnessed how it transformed to bills which, to her is real money that only mommies use. We made a trip to Target and told her she can buy whatever she can with the $60 she saved. She had so much fun that she didn’t know what to do with herself. Now, when we go to stores and she starts asking for things, I always remind her about that time she filled up her piggy bank and how much fun she had shopping. Sometimes, my 4-year-old’s self-control isn’t strong enough to brave the stores’ pervasive marketing and tempting displays. That’s when I give her a dollar and tell her that she can get a piece of candy with her dollar now OR we can put it in her piggy and go shopping for cooler and prettier things later on. It takes her a little bit of time to contemplate and weigh out her options but she almost always chooses the latter.
I am sharing this anecdote because I read about Sesame Street’s new segment about their financial literacy initiative. This new venture teaches our kids financial propriety and responsible spending at a very young age. It can’t be too early to instill the essential value of self control and the concept of delayed gratification. As a parent, I find this new segment a helpful tool in teaching children the importance of how to spend their money wisely. The old adage, “Money don’t grow on trees” will forever be a vague idea to our kids but Sesame Street lays out the concept in an almost tangible manner. The skills this new venture impart do not only apply to financial matters but have other practical advantages that our children can use when they get older . Sure, Cookie Monster doesn’t look even remotely close to your average financier and Grover doesn’t hold an MBA degree to be credible enough to delve on commerce but they are credible enough to our kids. At one point, we have to admit that we can’t do it all by ourselves and need a little help from our furry, little friends. You wouldn’t don a silly hip-hop garb and start rapping about how to spend your cash on family movie nights. And your little tot is more likely to get annoyed if you do, anyway. So let’s leave that job to our cute little friend, Elmo that our kids already find extremely entertaining. This new project is just brilliant and I am happy that it is consistent with the values I want to impart to my little one. Sometimes, Aurora gets tired of hearing me tell her “save, save, save.” But now, I can easily say, “Hey, Elmo does it, too!”
*****Please let me know what you think.