Everything I Know About Money I Learned in Kindergarten

Everything I Know About Money I Learned in Kindergarten

See how some of those basic lessons you learned at age 5 affect your wallet today.

By: Heather Chaet

When you think of kindergarten, what comes to mind? Perhaps little ones learning their ABCs and 123s? Maybe plastic bins of books and cubbies of art supplies? Kindergarten is all of this and much more. It’s the time we learn how to act in the world. Every day, our teachers impart wisdom on the proper ways to wait in line, ask for something, and listen to instructions.

My husband and I were going over our budget the other day for the umpteenth time, and it hit me. Everything I know about money I learned in kindergarten. OK, maybe the bit about coloring in or out of lines doesn’t quite apply, but many of the basic life lessons I was taught at age 5 in Mrs. White’s class inform my financial life at age 42.

1. Look both ways before crossing the street. At age 5, the street in question was the one to get from your neighborhood to the playground with those awesome swings. As an adult, the street is that beacon of the financial world: Wall Street. Before you sign documents, before you buy that new fridge, before you take out another mortgage, proceed with caution. Read over contracts, ask questions, and look at every angle. This little lesson is huge to remember when doing anything that will affect your financial life, whether you’re buying a house or purchasing that extra warranty on your new laptop.

2. Play fair. No one likes a cheater or a liar. In kindergarten, you may get a time-out as punishment for fibbing about where your homework is, but when you cheat or lie in your financial life, well, that can cost you big time (hello, audit!). From filing your taxes properly to paying bills on time, maintaining that element of honesty in every money transaction is a rule with which you just don’t want to mess around. Not playing fair with your finances can affect your credit score, cost you a hefty amount in fines, and wreck your long-term planning goals.

3. Clean up after yourself. This was a biggie in Mrs. White’s class back in 1977, and it’s a biggie for me now that we so often use credit cards, not cash. It’s very easy to swipe that plastic and believe that items are paid for with that swipe. But really, they are not. I may be wearing that $130 cashmere sweater, but I still need to pay for it. When using credit cards or taking out loans, make sure you have a plan for how those balances will be cleaned up each month. If not, you may create one huge debt mess.

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4. Everything dies. I remember when Goldie, the class goldfish, was found belly up one Monday morning. It was my first introduction into realizing we are all here for a temporary time. Part of your financial health is thinking about what happens after you are gone. Double-checking your wills and other documents and making sure you and your spouse have up-to-date life insurance policies are just as important as balancing that checkbook every week.


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5. Sharing is caring. It’s as ubiquitous in kindergarten classrooms as those little chairs and circle time. This annoying phrase drives me bonkers, but sharing your wealth is a key ingredient for a good financial life. Whether you donate a certain amount every year to a favorite charity or buy cookies from the neighbor gal down the street, sharing a little bit goes a long way toward keeping perspective on what’s more important than money.

6. Go to a trusted adult. Whether you’ve gotten in over your head or you’re worried you might end up there, knowing when to go to a trusted adult is an important survival strategy in kindergarten. The same goes for when you are dealing with money. A financial adviser or a trusted accountant can be your go-to guide as you maneuver through the world of savings accounts, investments, and life insurance. This helps you make better decisions -- decisions that, if made without guidance, could literally cost you money.

What’s your no. 1 money rule?

Heather Chaet documents her mini parenting successes, epic mommy fails, and everything in between for a plethora (love that word!) of publications and websites such as CafeMom, New York Family, and AdWeek. While her online persona is found at heatherchaet.com, Heather lives in New York City with her film director husband and one insanely curious, cat-obsessed daughter.

Image ©iStock.com/ktaylorg

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who want broke,me! who worked harder than anyone me!,who has heath problems because of it me! who has arrest an labeled as a bad guy me!.....time I get mine,before it gets me!

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