How many of you remember getting “big money” during the holidays from a favorite aunt or uncle or maybe a Godparent?
I remember one particular Christmas when I had been sick with a very sore throat. My uncle was visiting and the family was sitting in the kitchen. I walked into the kitchen all wrapped up in my blanket. My uncle picked me up and did what he always did: He pulled a shiny silver dollar out of my ear. That was big money back then.
I remember putting it in my bank, which was a wooden box with a little lock. The rule was that I couldn’t open the box and spend my money until the box was filled. To me the box looked huge and it seemed to take forever to fill, but when I did fill it, I could buy U.S. Savings Stamps; later on I put the savings in the bank. The rest of the money I could spend on toys and such.
When my children were little and their grandparents gave them money as a gift, we always encouraged them to save some, share some and spend some.
Today when your child is given a monetary gift, why not help them create a 3-S bank – saving, sharing and spending. All you need are three jars with lids, tape, recycled paper that is blank on one side and crayons. I find pickle jars work well, though a friend suggested using small gift boxes with lids, so you can cut a slot in the top.
If you use jars, wash both the jars and lids. Cut the paper into three strips wide enough to cover the jar. Make designs on the paper with the crayons and print the words – Save, Share, Spend – one word on each strip of paper. Then wrap the jar with the decorated paper and secure the paper with tape. In the past I used a sharp knife to cut a slit in the jar lid, but now I suggest you just unscrew the jar lid to put in the money.
Use your own guidelines for dividing the money. I like the third rule, a third in each jar. Then talk with your child about making a plan for the money.
Other suggestions to build your child’s generosity:
- Encourage your child to donate an old toy for every new toy he receives.
- Ask friends to make a donation in the name of your child.
- Work with your child to sort through clothes she has outgrown. Then clean, mend and box up the clothing, and take it to your local thrift store. Or have a garage sale and donate the money to your child’s favorite charity.
- Have your children gather up books they no longer read and donate them to the library or to a homeless shelter that houses children. Most libraries will not take used books, but they often have book sales with donated books.
- Work with your child to do a canned food drive for the local food bank. Collect food in your neighborhood or at family gatherings, and then donate the food to the food pantry in your town.
Remember that we all learn how to be caring human beings through observation, imitation and internalization. So teach through example; demonstrate your generous spirit today.