5 Ways Toddlers Use Money Just Like Adults

A humorous look at how some things never change, even with age.

Here is a light-hearted look at what happens when an overly excited mother, who moonlights as a personal finance blogger, lets her toddlers play with coins. After a few weeks of borderline chaos, I learned a few things. Namely that my kids use money just like the rest of us…with a twist.


And without further adieu, I give you:


5 Ways Toddler Use Money Just Like Adults



They lose it.



Have you ever noticed how it takes toddlers roughly three days to misplace 75% of their Christmas toys? I’m not sure how it happens, namely because I am present for the whole fiasco, but it’s the same with coins. It’s my fault for letting them handle money this young, but they’re curious, and I like to encourage that.

Still, come on.

Then, I laugh. We adults lose money, too, don’t we? We just experience it differently. Often, it quietly hitches a ride on our debit cards, getting dropped off at Starbucks or Target or Amazon. Or we let interest rates gnaw on our finances like termites.┬áSure, kids physically lose their coins by dropping them between the couch cushions or down the air vent, but it’s the same idea.



They enjoy it.



Coins 1-11-16


I get a kick out of watching my kids play with coins as they use their imaginations or practice counting. I sound like a mom who just wakes her kids up and rolls them around in money, but it’s not like that. First of all, I’m pretty sure we’d have, like, 12 diseases by now.

Some days, the kids want to play with their piggy banks. Some days, it’s cardboard boxes. Some days, it’s all the socks in the sock drawer. To them, it’s all a part of exploring the world. It’s only for short spurts and I always monitor them.

My 3-year-old is on the cusp of understanding the true value of money, to the point where she asks if she can use her quarters to go ride the rides at the mall again. “‘Bout time to putcha to work, kid,” I say in my head. Just kidding. Sort of.

Most adults have a love/hate relationship with money, but they enjoy using it, wouldn’t you say? I think we love what we can do once we have money, and we hate all the constraints it can put on our life. So, it’s not that we’re all a bunch of tight wads, but most people like the idea of having enough or being able to give more or being free from debts. Or making an imaginary pot of soup out of coins, if you’re like my daughter.



They fight over it.



Kids fight over everything. Some fights they outgrow; some they don’t. My munchkins do pretty well together, but eventually, one of them will unexpectedly rip a toy out of the other’s hands and run for it, like a football player on the fourth down. The victim will stand there, shocked, for approximately 1.3 seconds before speeding after the offender or just turning red and wailing. Then there are the “I want it!” “You can’t have it!” fights where brother and sister are locked in death grips around a┬ásingle coin.

Yes. That did just happen today.

This all transfers into adulthood, doesn’t it? The “me first” attitude. The “that’s not fair” approach. The “you can’t have what you want” discussion. There are a lot of people with locked grips around their money. It’s amazing how quickly my children apologize to each other and move on. Are they too young to understand grudges? Eh, probably, but it doesn’t mean they’re not a good example to their mother just the same.



They eat it.


piggy bank logo


My kids usually don’t put toys or crayons or shoes in their mouths (anymore), but every now and then, curiosity will get the better of them. Hence my constant supervision.*

*I really wanted to tap the space bar midway through that last word.

Adults may not stuff dollars in their mouths, but I for one overspend on eating. I definitely ate more curly fries in the nine months I was pregnant with my daughter than I had in the 24 years previous. Or ever will. Food is in the moment. Much more so than a retirement fund.



They hoard it.



My 3-year-old will ask to wear pants with pockets for the sole purpose of carrying coins them. Sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say no. She latches onto them like they’re her buried treasure, but the minute little brother tries to take one, she clutches her pockets and takes off running.

Yeah, we’re working on that.

Then, I remember how I’ve worked on that. I picture God holding out His hand, asking me to hand over my finances. My instinct is to tighten my grip or even to turn and run. Not saying my 1-year-old had nearly as good intentions as my heavenly Father does, but the visual certainly struck home.



Join the Discussion: What do your kids do with money that reminds you of yourself?


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Feature image via Canva




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