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Cultivating Good Money Sense in Young Children

After collecting the red packets of blessings during the recent spring festival, it’s time to think about what to do with all these. This is a good opportunity to inculcate positive attitudes towards money by developing good money sense and instilling the sensible habit of saving among the young.

It is a challenge to teach young children to understand the difference between “needs” and “wants”, the virtues of living within your means and saving for a rainy day. However, it is never too young to learn about managing money! Parents and educators need to teach young children the importance of savings in an endearing and interesting manner as soon as the child can count.


Counting Money

Counting money is an essential skill for all preschoolers to learn before they progress to primary school.

It is suggested that parents gather all the red packets that the children have collected and get them to open the packets by themselves. Allow them to count money and note down the amount as they open each packet. It is easy for them to cope with small amount at a time. Avoid getting them to work out the total amount as it may not be developmentally appropriate. It will be good to start if the children know simple multiplication of 2s, 5s and 10s.

Should your child be too young and not ready to count in simple multiplication of 2s, 5s and 10s, assist your child in counting and recording but they should be the one opening the packets and handing the money to you for counting. Their involvement is important in developing money sense. Get children to recognise the notes/coins by sorting them and get them to count with you. You can gradually increase the difficulty level when they grasp the concept.

[Note – Do be mindful that we are focusing on the money value in each packet and not associate the packets with the givers to avoid the emergence of any unhealthy comparisons]

Triple Ss

The Triple Ss – “Save”, “Spend”, and “Share”

Prepare 3 bottles or containers as saving banks for each child. This is your chance to recycle your new year goodies containers! Label each container with the triple Ss- ‘Save’, ‘Spend’, and ‘Share’.

Individual Saving Bank serves its own purpose:  

Save – save up for rainy days or for a specific goal of their choice

Spend – able to use for oneself or others

Share – able to buy something for everyone to share or donate to charity

After counting and noting the money collected, present the 3 serving banks that you have prepared. Discuss with them what would they like to do with the money they have collected. Introduce the 3 Ss. Get them to think about how they could spend on some, save up some and probably share (or donate) some. Then get them to put into any of the “saving banks”. Let them decide on the distributions.

This can be continued even after this Spring Festival. Whenever your children receive money as gift, get them to put into any of these banks too! Make it an on-going financial activity for children. Let them see the money grows and depletes in these banks.

Grasping abstract financial concepts may be difficult among the young children, but overtime with consistency and various financial literacy activities (e.g. involve children in grocery shopping, etc.), children will be able to develop good money sense.



Nancy Lee-Wong

Head of Training & Curriculum (Overseas) at Nurture Education Group.

MEd (Early Childhood, BSS (Family & Children Studies), Dip ECS with Leadership & Management,

ACTA certified, PITC RIE-Pikler Inspired, CIMI IAIM Certified

Mrs Nancy Lee-Wong’s passion in Early Childhood Education led her to begin her career as an assistant Kindergarten teacher to a Centre Director, and even certified as an IAIM infant massage instructor. She was also an accredited QA consultant with ECDA, a WDA-ECDA accredited trainer/lecturer and practicum supervisor for Preschool and Early Years Care & Education and Early Years Educare.

Having been in the early childhood industry since 1979, Mrs Nancy Lee-Wong has been actively involved in the field movement promoting the care and education in young children. She strongly believes that “respecting children’s authenticity and supporting their needs for exploration are fundamental to early child care and education.”


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