5 Money saving tips you can learn from a 3 year old

There are plenty of write ups about how we can teach children about money. About saving. About the value of money. But the truth is, they can actually teach us a lot about money too.

Take my 3 year old for instance. Once he learned that you can exchange money for things that you really want (like toys, chocolates) he couldn’t get enough of it. But we encouraged him to save it. And save it he did – for an entire year. And today I get to count it and find out how much he saved in what he calls his ‘Money Mickey’ (effectively a Mickey Mouse money box – see picture).

  1. Ask for it: If he sees me whipping out my wallet and some money falls out he is not too shy to ask if he can have it. He’s opportunistic in that way. Perhaps we as adults can take advantage of this too. If your company is doing well and posted record profits – ask for an increase or bonus. You don’t ask, you don’t get.
  2. Work for it: If simply asking for money doesn’t work he can be convinced to do a chore or two in exchange for money. He helps me pick up dog poop and on occasion he’ll even get money for cleaning the playroom, particularly if his one year old brother actually made most of the mess. We could learn from this too. Why not take up a hobby or craft? Make or bake something to sell. Or if you are a specialist of some kind offer your services in your spare time to make extra cash.
  3. Look for it: We once went out to visit family and my three year old was scrounging around on the floor looking behind and under all the furniture. When we asked what he was doing he said he was looking for money. This was a tad embarrassing but there is a lesson in this too. The adult version of this exercise would be too look in your attic, store room, garage, in between your sofa cushions, etc. I once found some Euros in the pocket of my ski jacket which I’d forgotten to empty out after we returned from Les Gets in France. The find was a goodie because as we had since returned to South Africa the Euros were worth even more!
  4. Make your own things: Christmas crackers are expensive but he made his own one at school the other day when he saw his teacher make one. He begged and pleaded for days and reminded us constantly to give him a toilet roll cardboard inner – one of the items needed to make a cracker – and he made one using that, some crinkle paper, stickers and gold string. So if a simple item is too expensive – consider making your own to save money. If you don’t know how, Google the problem or find out if there’s a how-to video on YouTube.
  5. Negotiate: This is what you should do if you get a ‘No’ when you ask about a raise or bonus (see step 1). There really is no such thing as a ‘No’ in my son’s world. When I say ‘no’ it’s usually followed by a plethora of follow up questions as to when we would say yes: ‘Tomorrow?’, ‘Saturday?’, ‘Tuesday?’ and so on…If your boss says no, try finding out when would be a good time to ask in the future. Say you’ll ask again in six months or a year’s time or that you’ll put in extra time, cut your lunch break, whatever. Badger someone like a 3 year old, and you’re either likely to get what you want…or get fired. If you get fired, remember this is advice as per what a 3 year old would do. Mombabbles takes no responsibility!

The end result – tally ho!

So what did all the above tactics result in the way of savings you ask? Well, my 3 year old saved R64.75 ($4.62) in his Money Mickey. He also got R100 from his great aunt in Malaysia and I also promised I would double whatever he made in his savings box so this comes to a grand total of: R229.50 ($16.39).

When we last what he wanted for Christmas he said he wanted a gun. Now this brings me to my very own tip. Whatever you do with your hard earned savings try and buy something of quality that will last. We have several toy guns in the house and they’ve all stopped working in one way or another.

The quality of toy guns is just not that good in my opinion so I’m going to try and steer him towards buying something that will last. But, you know what it’s like convincing a 3 year old to change his mind. I think my campaign will be as successful as Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House – there’ll be lots of tantrums and it will all just end in tears. Wish me luck!


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