One Dollar Bill

by Mia Cronan

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Can you imagine a society that used only dollar bills for payment of goods and services? No five dollar bills, no tens, no twenties, and nothing higher than that? This society wouldn't use credit cards or debit cards, either.

You go to the store, and your grocery bill comes to $127.00. You have to count out $127.00 in one-dollar bills. That can get tedious! How about buying a $17,000 automobile? Whew! You'll be counting and double-checking for a long time, and so will the salesperson (probably driving up the price of automobiles, as well, since the dealership would have to hire more people to handle the money).

What is my point here? We've made it very simple and easy to spend money. Credit cards are so easy! Checkbooks are so simple. Standing in line counting out several hundred dollars worth of singles when buying a new television would be painful for everyone.

I believe that our spending habits would be greatly altered if we didn't have such efficient means of getting rid of our funds. However, it's not too late to teach our children how to look at spending in those terms. My advice?

  • If you give your kids an allowance, give it to them in single bills.
  • If you send your child out for new basketball shoes, give him the money in singles.
  • When you buy things from your child for his fundraisers at school, pay her in singles.
  • Let your children "pay" at the grocery store, but give them singles to count out, so that they know exactly how much they're spending.

Counting it out takes work. It also forces kids to think more about what they're spending. It's not just a number; it's an amount. It's a quantifiable sum of money. Chances are that forcing them to think more about how much they're spending will encourage them to be wise and think long and hard about how they use their money!

Mia Cronan is a married full-time mother of three girls, ages 5, 3, and 1, living in Pennsylvania.

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