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Piggy bank with coins (Jason Verschoor/iStockphoto)
Piggy bank with coins (Jason Verschoor/iStockphoto)

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Start your kids off with a piggy bank Add to ...

I've been trying to introduce lessons about money into everyday life with my two daughters. A few weeks ago at the grocery store I gave each of them some coins to buy a treat of their choice. I thought it would be a good way to curb the constant nagging for junk food that typically accompanies our shopping outings.

I gave my five-year-old a toonie and handed my three-year-old two loonies. My eldest was instantly outraged that I had given her younger sister "more monies" than her. My explanation of coin denominations didn't convince her and I had to go to customer service for change.

Around the age of five or six, kids have basic counting skills and are developing the ability to recognize different coins and understand coin values. But these skills need to be encouraged. Teaching the value of money to young children takes time and effort.

Soon after our grocery store episode, I found a few tools to use with my daughter that have really helped.

Moonjar Canada, an Ottawa-based company, sells an award-winning line of products designed to start kids on the path to good money habits. When I introduced my daughter to the Moonjar moneybox, with its separate compartments for money to share, save and spend, I also gave her an allowance of $5. I explained how $2 should go into savings, $2 could be spent, and one dollar was meant to share with those who need it. At the same time, I gave her the Moonjar passbook so she could track how much money was in each segment.

According to a new survey by U.S. mutual fund company T. Rowe Price, 85 per cent of parents with kids aged eight to 14 say their child has a piggy bank. The survey showed that while the piggy bank helps teach the importance of saving, parents often have to repeat money lessons as kids quickly forget them.

There are many opportunities for teachable moments. Stuart Ritter, a financial planner with T. Rowe, says that you should talk about money when you give an allowance, shop together, or when your child receives birthday cash.

While we all want to provide our children with sound financial values, many of the parents in the T. Rowe survey admitted they feel they often lack the tools or knowledge to teach them.

As with any other skill you teach your children - potty-training comes to mind - seek out the products that will ease the process. I've been using the Moonjar products with my daughter each Friday, when I give her an allowance. It's made a difference. She's now very pleased to accept as many toonies as I'll give her.

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