We Don’t Have Any Money! Money Matters for Preschoolers

“Mommy, I want candy.”

“We don’t have money for that,” I state. I continue adding items from my shopping list to the grocery cart.

“I want donuts. Pleassssse,” my three-year-old daughter begs.

“We don’t have any money,” I explain once again. “Count three cans of corn for mommy. That’s right; you found three cans from our shopping list.”

Embarrassing Moment

After several more times of telling my daughter we don’t have any money, we finally finish our grocery list and approach the checkout stand. The clerk scans all the items and summarizes, “That will be $28.35.”

“My mom doesn’t have any money,” my daughter quickly informs her. My face reddens with embarrassment.

The kind clerk informs her, “That’s okay. I don’t have any money either,” as she smiles at me.

No Money for That

Of course my child thinks I don’t have any money to buy groceries. How many times did I say that to her? What I neglected to explain to my three-year-old is that we have money for what we NEED, but not always for extra things that we WANT.

Wants versus Needs

So began our new home campaign. When Kristen saw something she wanted, my husband and I started explaining the difference between a need and a want. For example, “It would be really fun to have ….. Let’s put it on your want list for the future.” If it was something she needed, we clarified, “Yes, you’re right. You need new shoes. Your old shoes are too small.”

Over Time

By the time our daughters were in early elementary school, they could accurately identify the difference between a need and a want. God always provides for our needs. And many times He blesses us with our wants.

Lessons Learned

In the grocery store that day, I learned a key component of money management. We must teach our children the difference between a need and a want. It is a basic principle of training children about money. Do you know the difference? What about your children? Do they know the difference? Today’s a perfect day for teaching this concept.


Image source: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/. coins-1428100-s.



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