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Spend. Save. Share. And get kids thinking about budgeting early. —Photo courtesy of Jones & Mae

Last-Minute Kid Gift? Check.

Why I'm giving my three-year-old cash (and a place to stash it) this Christmas. 

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Spoiler Alert: I’m giving my three-year-old son a bank on December 25.

He’s getting plenty of toys (Legos!) and practical items (handmade PJs!), but his big present is a soccer-ball shaped bank, along with rolls of dimes, pennies, quarters, and nickels. I know that dropping each coin into the bank’s slot will delight his little brain, and I’m going to take advantage of that time to instill some financial common sense in his life.

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It may seem early to start talking to him about finances, but he’s already obsessed with the concept. He pushes buttons on the credit card machine at the grocery store, calls dollar bills “cookie money,” and loves to examine my wallet. Now, I want him to start understanding saving, giving, and spending. I hope to introduce “budgeting” to his vocabulary so early that assessing “needs” versus “wants” becomes automatic.

Turns out that I’m not alone. Denver-based Jones & Mae just launched a new three-piece bank to teach kids about money ($79.99). While more expensive than some other banking systems, the aesthetically clean, bamboo containers are the type of things that designers would love to display in any room of the house (and will last for years). One box is meant for saving, another for spending, and the third for sharing. The lids are secured with small magnets that remind us of Magna-Tiles, and each set includes tips on getting your kids—ages three to 10—invested in, well, investing.

Co-founder Bethany Neumann and her husband, Brian, developed the banks as a way to teach financing to their children. (Bethany has a financial background and Brian has a design one.) Their kids earn dough by doing chores or activities. “First they earn their money,” Neumman says. “Then they decide what to do with it.” Instead of the money going into one pot, the three banks give kids a chance to focus on budgeting immediately and better understand how money can be used.

I’m so smitten with the idea that I just might have to return the soccer-ball bank and upgrade to this system. Now, that’s a good investment.

Follow senior editor Natasha Gardner on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

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Natasha Gardner, Articles Editor

Natasha Gardner writes and edits longform journalism and multimedia projects for 5280 and is a regular columnist for 5280.com.

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