Money mistakes kids make


Coin from "Can I Have Some Money? by Candi Sparks

Coin from “Can I Have Some Money? by Candi Sparks

Little kids are adorable, even when dealing with money. But money can give them problems that range from cute to expensive-to-fix. Are any of these familiar? Feel free to share your own tips, stories and memories in the comments section below. I will be sharing more in future posts with you, as well.

Hopefully the little mistakes don’t turn in to bigger ones, that grow as the child grows.

Putting money where it doesn’t belong. This money mistake is a childhood classic. To kids, a coin is an object that tastes good, is fun to roll around and seems to be ‘right sized’ for small fingers, hands and other body parts. So coins commonly fit well in little hands, noses and ears. ‘The time Katie got a penny stuck in her nose’ is an alarming story. This situation causes panic at first, especially for Katie. But, the story that gets laughs because of the happy ending and because it’s a cute thing that most kids do.

Takeaway: It is not natural to know what to do with money. But if we teach children how to use it, and where to put money so it can grow, they stand a better chance of being financially savvy adults.

Mistaking size and value. One of the hardest things for a child to understand is that a dime is worth more than a nickel. Getting bigger (and growing up) is usually a cool thing to do in the eyes of a child, so when something smaller has more value in it, it is downright confusing! The conversation about why a dime is more than a nickel usually goes something like this.

The parent holds out a handful of coins for the child to examine:

“The nickel is worth five cents. A dime is worth more, it is ten cents.” says the parent.

The child is thinking, it is half the size why is it double the worth? This makes no sense! From a visual perspective and a math perspective, this does not make any sense!

“Are you sure?” asks the child.

“Yes, I am.” says the parent.

“But it’s smaller. How can it have more in it?” the child quizzes.

“Because that’s the way it is!” the parent says.

The child shakes the head but goes along with the parent.

“OK. Can I have the change?”

Takeaway: Bigger is not always better, what matters is value, not size. Teaching children the thought process of value based decisions is a longer process and one that takes a lot of patience and a continuous dialogue.

Thinking an ATM is a toy. Ed’s kids did a funny thing with bills. One Saturday he went to watch a favorite DVD and the sliding drawer where the disc goes was stuck. He had to pry it open. When he did, a few singles and fives were ‘stuck’ in the drawer. The culprits – his sons Justin (age 3) and Lee (age 5). To the boys, the sliding drawer seemed like their own in-home ATM. They were having a ball playing ‘going to the bank’ by putting money in and out of the DVD player. To this day Ed has no idea where they got the money to put in there!

Takeaway: An ATM is not a toy. Children can learn about banking if you let them help you make deposits (especially). Although money does not go in the DVD player children can experience having it and putting it in its proper place – like their own piggy bank.

Financial literacy is a life skill that can be developed from an early age. Our young people are watching and want us to show them the way.

What money is

Where money comes from

How money grows

What to do with money

Please stay tuned for more on the subject of kids and money.  Contact me if you would like a sample of my work.  Join my mailing list and get the first chapter free of – Lemonade Sold Out – (Can I Have Some Money? Vol. 5) by Candi Sparks (



Candi Sparks is the author of children’s books about money “Can I Have Some Money?” Max Gets It!, Nacho Money and other titles. Her upcoming titles include “Sold Out“ and “Smart & Pretty” and these books for young people focus on building community and entrepreneurship. She is the Dean of Young and Rising Moguls at World of Money and a Brooklyn mother of two, on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (Candi Sparks, author).

About candi sparks

Candi Sparks is a fully licensed financial professional and a Brooklyn mother of two. She works with private clients, business owners, the NYC Department of Education, faith based, non profit and community organizations on financial education and implementing financial strategies for success. Events are fun, interactive and solid financial information. Sparks Fly, financial literacy for YOU(th) Learn more so you can live more! toll free: 866.556.2432
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