It is never too early to teach children how to save money. The trick is making it a fun and enjoyable time. Start by finding a place to put the money. Piggy banks can be found anywhere but making a bank out of a coffee can or plastic bottle is a great activity to connect the child to the process. With a few crayons and construction paper, the bank will be personalized and something a toddler can be proud of.
Collecting the loose change from all around the house is easiest way for a younger child to accumulate and receive money. Make it a scavenger hunt or game. Check under the couch cushions, on the floor near the dresser and even on the countertops. Parents can make it a point to give the toddler the extra change from their pockets at the end of the day. All of the money goes into the bank. Every time money is placed in the bank, consider offering encouraging words or a high five as positive reinforcement. As this activity becomes routine, it will be a natural occurrence for the child to place any money that is found or received into the bank.
To show toddlers what happens to the money they save, take them to the store with some of the money discovered around the house. Don’t let the trip be an average shopping trip full of errands. Make the trip special and unique so that it will stand out in the child’s mind as important and memorable. Find a small toy or piece of candy that the toddler can purchase with the money from the bank and allow them to hand the money to the cashier. Explain that the money they have been saving is being exchanged for the item the toy/candy. This demonstrates for them the direct relationship between the money they are saving and what can be done with it.
The next step to making saving money fun for your toddler is discussing what they want to save for. Ask questions about toys or activities he enjoys. As the conversation continues, explain that these items or events can take place when a certain amount of money is saved. This adds excitement to learning about money and also provides something to look forward to: a goal to reach. At this point, an allowance can be introduced to the child. Provide a simple chore that matches his age and ability and make it a point to pay him when the task is completed. A toddler may struggle with the concept of being given allowance once a week; so if possible, pay the child everyday when the task is completed to provide more positive reinforcement.