Here’s a simple story about gardening, harvesting carrots, and the power of saving. It is a wonderful reminder that kids listen, watch our examples, and can understand financial concepts if we take the time to teach them. Enjoy!
The other morning, my six-year-old son (Little I) and I were tending to our small garden.
We planted the garden together in the spring, we shared the excitement of watching the seeds sprout and grow, and each day we eagerly inspect which vegetables are ready to harvest.
Little I has been especially excited about the rainbow carrots we planted. So, you can imagine his excitement when we found a couple of carrots starting to push out of the ground – a sign they are getting ready to harvest.
“Can we pull them!? Can we pull them!?” Little I begged.
I knew it was early to harvest them. They’d come out small. We really should let them grow a bit longer.
Little I’s excitement was contagious.
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s do it!”
First, he pulled up a purple carrot. A little small, but not bad. Then, an orange carrot – this one a little bigger.
“Can we do one more?” Little I asked.
We found one more to pull up, an orange one – also a little small.
Little I was disappointed. “How about just one more?” He asked. “Maybe the next one will be HUGE!”
I said no, let’s wait, and we came inside to wash and eat our delicious, sweet carrots.
As we walked inside I realized, this could be a fabulous teachable moment about life, delayed gratification, and saving money!
To help explain why we should wait to pull the rest of the carrots, I drew a little picture.
If we harvest the carrots now…
Here are our carrots now – small, but growing. We only have a finite number of carrots left in the garden. If we pull them all now, this is all we get.
If we wait to harvest the carrots…
Then I drew a second picture of the carrots if we waited a couple of months.
We still have the same number of carrots left in the garden, but just by waiting, we will have 3x the amount of carrot!
After seeing the second picture, Little I said he definitely wanted to wait to pull any more carrots.
Bringing it back to saving money
He’s engaged, I thought. Let’s bring this back to money.
If we keep some of our money in a bank, the bank will pay us to keep that money there. This is called interest. Just like the carrots, if we leave the money in the bank it will grow.
I saw Little I’s eyes light up.
“I want the bank to pay me money to save! Let’s not spend our money, Mom.” Little I said.
Then he asked, “Can I open a bank account – like today! – to watch my money grow?”
You bet, kiddo.
Finding the teachable moments
I love this story because it is so simple.
It was a five minute conversation that helped our family talk about saving money. And, it got my kindergartener excited about interest!
The conversation also provides a framework for future conversations (“Remember the carrots? Let’s wait to let them grow…”)
The trick is finding these organic and simple teachable moments to talk about money, values, and life.