Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Family Fun Jar

A few months ago, I decided that, in the interests of financial education for my then three-year-old son, we would start a Family Fun Jar.

First off, three year olds have NO IDEA about money. I had to sit him down and teach him what a penny was. And I caught him throwing away a dollar bill, because, "it wasn't money." (he thought only coins were money)

So I figured he should learn early. Robert Kiyosaki would be proud.*

I found a blue plastic container that had a small, round hole in the lid. I taped the lid shut, and marked a line about 3/4 from the top of the container. Then I herded up Alex and Mr. Goofy for a family meeting.

I christined it the "Family Fund Jar". Okay it wasn't a Jar, but "Family Fund Blue Plastic Container with Scotch-Taped Lid So No One Cheats" just didn't roll off the tongue. All our spare change would go into the FFJ. When we reached the line, we would all get together and decide how to spend our fun money! Big Fun at the Goofy household!

We went through drawers, pockets, car ashtrays, wallets, the laundry room and just about every place that spare change hides. Alex carefully put all the change into the Family Fun Jar.

...and it reached about 1/12 of the way from the bottom of the FFJ. Mommy had picked too gigantic of a container for the FFJ. Or over-estimated how much loose change we had lying around.

Anyway, we've been donating to the FFJ for about 6 months now. I fear that the lesson will be lost if I wait too long for the reward of spending the FFFJ.

So....I need your ideas! Dinner and a movie is what comes to my mind, but Alex nixes it. He wants to use it to "go to the zoo and a park". Er, that stuff is free, dude. He's still got a lot to learn.

Anyway, ideas! Ideas! Something that will be memorable. That Alex can look back on and think, "Wow! We saved our money and got to do XYZ. That was so cool!"

Oh, and I have no idea how much money is actually in the FFJ. I found a whole bunch of dollar bills that went through the laundry and those got added recently, which helped. If I had to take a wild guess, we probably have $50 in there. So don't suggest a trip to Disneyworld, cause that won't even get us in the parking lot.

*If you haven't read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" go do it. Now! A very important book for anyone alive.


Cagey said...

What about World's of Fun? He is old enough to ride the kiddie rides now and you can do it before your own NewKid arrives.

What about Oceans of Fun or that water place at the Legends (not sure about cost, though)?

What about a special outing to Crown Center to the Crayola Cafe?

What about a road trip to Omaha to see THEIR zoo?

What about a day o' fun at the Dinosaur restaurant followed with games at Dave n' Busters?

Also, the zoo is not free in KC! Gee, where are you from? St. Louis? hee! ;-)

lorib said...

Cagey gave all the best suggestions -- I can't think of anything better!! We haven't been to the Dinosaur restaurant yet, but it is high on the list of places to go since Lil D is totally into dinosaurs right now.

If you go to the KC zoo, wait till after Memorial Day and then you can use some FFJ funds to ride on the new carousel. You could also go to an IMAX movie.

dorothy said...

DAmmit, Cagey.

What a good idea. The little angel has a piggy bank, but this is a better idea.

mboardman said...

You will have more than you think in that jar once its full. I turned in 4 spaghetti sauce jars full of change 2 weeks ago at the bank, and when the deposit finally hit my account, it was $299! so dont underestimate....

As for ideas that cost money - how about taking him to a planetarium show, or a helicopter ride? They give them at various airshows, and at the downtown airport at times I think. Or buy him a musical instrument - like a trumpet! (education heh!).

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I also recommend The Wealthy Barber.

Phenomenal book.

Financial education should be a basic part of public school education. I think the day we got rid of home ec and woodshop and whatnot was a VERY sad day.

I don't need to know how to macrame a pot or whatnot-but some basic stuff about budgeting, planning, nutrition etc. are WORTH having. I grew up very cosseted and it's within the last 3 or 4 years that my parents have taught me these things and now I am on a GREAT track but I can see how if you don't have supportive parents at home you can end up in a financial hole (I was always a good cook, though).

Woodshop and whatnot-they should teach basic homeowner and apartment skills. Would save kids a ton of money.

These small skills I feel my elders have is part of what allowed them to be so successful. Leaving aside the issue of exorbitant student loans, I have classmates who make *double* my govt salary and are in deep CC debt where I have savings. HOW? Cost of living doesn't cut it as an answer because I live in one of the top 3 most expensive parts of the country.

Good on you for teaching Alex these things so young, man. That will last him forever.