Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Value of a Penny

The value of money, regardless of denomination, has been a big topic around our house lately as we try to teach our kids how to spend their earnings wisely. Left to their own devices, they would return home with nothing but video games and candy bars. After a week, boredom would set in after conquering the game and crashing from their sugar-high.

One of my husband's teaching devices is having the kids pay attention to the date on their coins. For example: a pre-1983 penny has a higher copper content than those made later, making their value more than double--2.34 cents! (My husband is a machinist with an astute knowledge of metal. He can't help himself.) By the way, post-1983 pennies are made of copper-plated zinc with very little copper content at all.

Somehow this "hobby" found its way into my short story that was published with OakTara Publishers in December 2012. When I started writing it, I had a vision of the main character and the diner, set in the heart of New York City, but had no idea what the story would actually be about. I started writing, and one detail linked to another until the moral fashioned into a lesson on contentment--being thankful and content with the blessings God has bestowed upon us and not coveting others for their material possessions or social status. Then when the hero of the story appeared on the page--uh, computer screen--and stumbled upon a penny, our little family activity overtook my story (hints: the title).

Money, and its value, means different things to different people. In this economy, times are tough and money scarce. My inspiration for this post (if you can call it that) is my giant pile of mending to catch up on--repairing hems, replacing missing buttons, sewing slit seams, performing major surgery on stuffed animals whose stuffing threatens to escape . . . you get the point. Just this morning, I finished sewing an all new hem on a silk skirt I bought at Banana Republic for $4 on their clearance rack five years ago. Now at $4 I definitely got my money's worth for it to last five years, and I could've parted ways with it. But I couldn't bring myself to throw it away when all it needed was a little TLC. (I even added to it to freshen it up a bit.) Yes, I can afford to go out and buy a new skirt. But why? My $4 has value.

What devices do you use to help teach your kids the value of money?
What habits do you and your family practice to help save money?

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