Two words that probably don't go well together are "responsible" and "toddlers" but we have found an easy way to begin instilling in them early the art of giving, working, earning, and saving (and the good things is, it really didn't require any extra work on our part! There were a couple of things that led to our "idea". 1) We drink a lot of canned drinks. We don't have recycle where we live and I hate to throw them away, so we had a huge pile we were planning on bringing to my parents house so they could recycle them there. Rob would smash them up to keep the clutter to a minimum and Maddox loved to "help". 2) My niece was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago and we started collecting coke tabs for her to take to the hospital. For every little "house" that we filled a child could receive a treatment (St. Jude's does not turn down children just because they cannot afford treatments, and the tabs are one way the hospital can get money to cover these treatments). These two simple steps provided us with the perfect idea!
Maddox and Eden help me collect all of the tabs off of the cans. They know that these tabs help get sick children the treatment they need and is an easy way for them to understand giving. Then, Maddox and Eden work by helping Rob smash up the cans. Rob then takes the kids to a recycle center where the kids sell their cans and learn that their work of smashing the cans has led to their earning of this money (it's been so much more effective than just having me or Rob pay them because they get really excited knowing someone else is paying them for what they did). Finally, we take their earnings home and place it in a glass jar on the counter (right next to the glass jar filled with tabs) where it is saved until they get enough to do something fun with it. Teaching your toddlers (or even older children) about finances doesn't have to be difficult. Find creative ways to teach them the value of working for their money, giving to others, and saving what they earn. If you have any great ways you have taught your children about money feel free to share!