Kids need money when they are young. Yes I mean need money; I don’t consider it a childhood luxury. Rather money at a young age is an essential tool for kids to learn its value and how to manage it. This in turn allows them to put a value on the physical things that surround them. As children, my siblings and I had a reading contract with my parents. I detailed how this worked in “Best $50 I ever spent,” to say the least we worked hard for our cash.
One of the things that my siblings and I spent most of our cash on was ice cream. To spare us the gouging and highly inflated prices charged by the ice cream truck, my mother would buy boxes of popsicles from the store and charge us the per unit price (including tax) when we wanted our afternoon treat.
One day when we were being babysat by a couple of teenage brothers, my mother gave them permission to give us ice cream without collecting the regular fee. She neglected to inform us of this temporary change, so when the babysitters gave my little sister an ice cream, she refused saying “I don’t have a moose!” The babysitters were bewildered as too why my sister wanted a moose before having an ice cream, but they continued to offer it too her. She became more and more upset insisting that she didn’t have a moose and until she had a moose she wasn’t allowed to eat the ice cream. The younger brother eventually clued in and realized that she was saying that she needed a quarter (which has the engraved picture of a moose) to pay for her ice cream. With this understood, they were able to reassure her that Mom had told them that she didn’t have to pay today, (meanwhile my brother and I felt no qualms about taking advantage of what we thought was a lapse in our babysitters’ judgment.)
That said, at a young age earning money, having it, and spending it on what we wanted taught us the value of money. We knew that for the better tasting ice cream we had to work more for and if we spent all of our money then there would be nothing left for our afternoon treats. (We probably drove the electrical bill up quite a bit hanging over the edge of the freezer debating the pros and cons of flavor and price.) Just as important we also learned that we were not entitled to things we had yet to earn.