The Tall Tale of a Bank Robbery…

Guest blogger, Carol Ehlers shares insight with us on talking about money with children.

There we were at the bank, my 5 year old daughter and I, on a Saturday morning watching 40 pounds of coins be counted.  It was our daughter’s Christmas gift from grandparents’ year-long effort of saving coins.  I thought what a great teaching opportunity and ‘money adventure.’

When the bank clerk handed her the light-weight small bank envelope containing cash the emotion on her face showed deep concern.  By the time we got to the car there were tears and a demand that her money be returned. She was convinced that what was in the envelope did not equal her bucket of money and she had been robbed. That was over 10 years ago and the memory as well as this family ‘money story’ lives on.

Children get their first lesson on money management from the adults around them. By the age of three, children already have a good idea about how you feel about money. How you talk about it and handle it tells them a lot about how to approach money.

Children and Money

Children are not born with “money sense.” They learn about money by what they see, hear and experience. As they grow, children constantly are watching, listening and learning about money. How much does ice cream cost? Can I buy a new book or toy with my money?

As a parent, relative or other adult important in the life of a child, you are teaching the children you come into contact with about money. What would you really like them to be learning?

A great resource the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Money As You Grow provides age-based activities and conversation starters to help your children develop money skills, habits, and attitudes that can serve them well as parents.


  • You cannot not teach your children. They are learning from you whether you actively attempt to teach them or not.
  • One of the most important lessons you can teach children is positive money management.

Whether we as parents and caregivers realize it or not, children’s attitudes and values regarding money are influenced by how the adults in their world spend, borrow, save, share, invest and protect themselves with money.

Source: Talking to Children about Money

Carol Ehlers is an ISU Human Science Extension and Outreach Family Finance specialist working to empower consumers to take control over their economic lives. 

Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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