The Loose Change Game: A Fun Way To Teach Kids To Save


Stasie Tillman is a writer & an investment and personal finance analyst. She oversaw the Analytics department for a prominent Long Island bond brokerage firm for many years. She’s the founder of a faith and lifestyle website. Contact her at

    Summer!! I had this summer all planned. This being my first summer working from home and fully able to enjoy doing summer activities with my kids. More so than just the usual one week vacation, we’d have 2 whole months of daily time together. I didn’t want their brains to turn to mush, as is typical from lots of TV and the lazy-hazy summer days, so I planned a few daily learning activities along with the fun stuff! 
    With the kids being home all day, every day now, I had to adjust to a few unexpected things, like the increase in the grocery bill, the added mess, and the whining of I’m bored. A twenty-thirty minute cleaning session became part of our daily routine. There was no way I could tackle all of this along with nursing a 7 month old, cooking, and working too. 
    While I was cleaning I noticed loose change scattered everywhere, as much as dollars’ worth of change thrown on the floor of my son’s closet once. It became clear to me that my kids had no real value for money. How do I get my kids to learn this important life lesson and like it? Turn it into a game, of course! The Loose Change Initiative! This game would do the following:

•    Encourage kids to save.
•    Teach an important life lesson.
•    Develop a necessary money habit.
•    Get the kids focused on a long-term goal 
•    One must have the most savings by the end of August to win.
•    The winner gets epic bragging rights
•    And a wad of Back to School cash ($25 in singles is a sizable wad, I think).

    I called the game to order, starting with a finding frenzy! I declared that all loose change was up for grabs until it’s safely deposited into an individual piggy bank. That meant change held in hand was fair game. Of course, a few fights ensued as is typical with any competitive games with my kids, but all in good fun. What surprised me was how well they took to the game, even continuing their efforts without me prompting them. I often found them snatching their dad’s change right off the dresser, and laughing to themselves at their good fortune. 
    August is nearing its end and along with the Back-to-School preparations of getting school supplies and the like, my kids are looking forward to who will emerge as the champion of the Loose Change Competition! There are no loser here, they’ll both start the school year with far more money last year. I’m thinking about keeping it going throughout the school year to encourage them to stay money conscious! 



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