We have yet to figure out a money system that works in our house, in relation to the kids. They don't yet get a steady allowance (although we keep trying), but now and then they pick up some birthday money or something for a lost tooth, or a small gift from a grandparent just for being a darn cute kid. At any rate, we are basically a cashless family now, so we never have bills and coins and change just sitting around. Plus both Ben and Juliette have a penchant for wanting to count and play with money and I'm pretty sure some would go missing, and not necessarily their own. For a while I tried having a little paper notebook, like the old checking account book I had as a kid (that you put into the green machine and it printed out your balance on it.) That worked for a while, then we lost the books.
So we basically resorted to an honour/memory system. Each of the boys just keeps a running tab in their head of what they have and what they spend. They are astonishingly accurate and honest in their dealings, which is really nice to see. They probably think I can remember it all, which would never be the case. So up and down it goes, with an extra birthday check or a new book or toy. When they want to buy something, they inform me how much they have, and how much they will have once they "spend" the money.
With that background, we came to last Thursday. Benjamin came home from school almost in tears. His whole class was able to walk around those travelling book sales they bring to schools (overpriced books and encouraging the kids to make a detailed list of everything they want! Argh, I can't stand it!) Well, he found a book he really wanted. It was $10. He knew that because he's five, he received $5 in allowance for September and October, giving him exactly $10. So he grabbed the book, marched up to the cashier, and informed that person that he had $10 to spend, and that they could take that and he would take the book. Well, Benjamin was absolutely confounded that the person was asking for paper money. He knew he had earned the $10, so the person could just have it!
When I heard that story, I realized it's probably time to have a little lesson on how money works and maybe keep a more official record of everything. Time to take a trip down to the bank and open some bank accounts, I think.
(I did give Ben that $10 to take the next day and buy his book. Broke my heart and I couldn't refuse! Plus, it wasn't just a book, it was also a french book. I figure there's not much better to spend their money on!)