A couple years ago, I was at the school Book Fair with my two daughters. I had told them they could each pick out a book that I would buy for them, but they were running around grabbing journals, pens, and posters instead and asking if they could get them. I knew they had money they'd been given for birthdays and holidays that I could let them use, but I realized in that moment that they had no sense of ownership of it and I wanted them to better understand what it meant to just buy the first thing that catches their eye.
So I went home and started searching online for something I could buy to help them on this journey. I knew I wanted something that would allow them to physically see their money. I'd been keeping track of it in the app I use to manage our family's budget and they didn't even really know it existed. I also wanted to start instilling basic budgeting concepts, including putting money aside for different purposes like giving away to others and investing. And finally, I wanted it to be something they genuinely liked, felt ownership for, and reached for regularly.
But when I started searching for something that met these criteria, I came up empty handed. I found cute variations of piggy banks, including jar-style ones that helped steer kids towards saving and sharing, but they lacked the tracking component - the part that would guide them towards setting goals and getting real world money math practice. And I found budgeting worksheets and books geared towards kids, but they lacked the tangible connection to money that I feel is important for kids to really internalize and understand the concepts.
So I decided to make something myself, and the first draft of Beyond the Bank binders was born. They've been a huge success with my kids. We went to the next school Book Fair a few months later armed with their binders. This time, they knew exactly how much money they had to spend on the extra things they wanted. And more importantly, they had the awareness that spending that money meant they wouldn't have it for something else. Both of them bought something they wanted, but also wrote down other things they wanted on their Wish Lists, so they could remember to save for them if they still wanted them down the road. And now, more than a year later at the latest Book Fair, they not only look at the items they want to buy more thoughtfully but also have donated money to the school for additional books.
This has been a powerful tool for our family and it's been fulfilling to watch my kids' relationship with money grow over the past year. They've become more generous, more entrepreneurial, and more willing to save up for the things they want. My hope is that Beyond the Bank binders bring this and more to the kids in your life, too.