Three Cups: a lesson in life and money for children

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I grew up with a little divided bank—there were three little spots for giving, saving, and “fun”, and one big spot for “goal money.”  But my thrifty young self put a label over the “10% savings” and turned it into “10% goal”, allotting the 70% for savings.  (The savings label has long fallen off, but the bank still sits in my childhood bedroom dresser, where my sister uses it to store extra cash.)

Give, Save, and Spend

The story of Three Cups uses the idea of separating a weekly allowance into three separate cups labeled give, save, and spend. We didn’t grow up with an allowance, and at this point don’t plan to give our children one. However, as I read the book aloud, I was easily able to change the references to a weekly allowance woven throughout the tale into “birthday money” and “got paid for a job”, etc.

Three Cups contains pleasant illustrations by April Willy—from the big, tall bank building to the dollar bills overflowing from the tea cups, not to mention the adorable little boy with blue eyes and a baseball cap. It’s easy to read and depicts quite clearly the long-term benefits of giving, saving, and spending.

Three Cups

CPA Tony Townsley’s tale Three Cups (written by Mark St. Germain) keeps it simple—it doesn’t tell you how much to put in each cup, it doesn’t require a special bank.  And yet, it plants the ideas of bank accounts and interest into young minds.  There are 10 tips for parents at the back, and even a website where you can share your stories of an adventure with three cups.

What’s a childhood money memory, your favorite piggy bank, or a lesson you learned young in life about giving, saving, or spending?

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Three Cups

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  1. hello i was just wondering where did you get you piggy bank from, though it was neat and would like to get one.

    1. My parents bought these for my brother and me in the 1980s. I believe they were from a Larry Burkett seminar, but I don’t think they are available anymore. I’m sorry!

  2. My favorite piggy bank when I was little, was a very realistic looking, sitting elephant with a yellow scarf. I remember it sitting on top of the bookshelf in the living room (which in my memory was up under the clouds/ceiling) and looking up at it and knowing it was mine. At the time, of course had very little money to put in it. It’s still sitting on my shelf =)

    My son just got his first piggy bank too, at three days old, his grandma brought home a neon green little pig with large pink eyes. It’s actually kind of cute =)

  3. My parents really lived out generousity, in my opinion, the greatest of financial lessons. I watched as they lived a fasted lifestyle to be able to bless others. In turn I now have a heart to do so too.

  4. I would love this book for my daughter — my mom used the envelope system when I was growing up so when I read about it now, I think of her.

  5. Ahh…I think I want that book. 馃槈

    I’ve always been a penny pincher by nature, and I also had a little bank with three segments when I was growing up! (it looked like a house though…still have it somewhere!) I think the most important money-related lesson I’ve learned is that while paying a faithful tithe does not guarantee you no hard times, God does stand behind his promise, and even through some pretty lean days, we’ve always been taken care of. It was the principles of tithing and money management that I learned while I was young that has helped make those kind of days a little easier.

  6. I wish I’d been taught these principles growing up which is why we just bought Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Jr. to help our three year old son learn about working, giving, saving and spending. This book would be a great addition to the ones that we already have. We don’t believe in allowances, but think it’s good to allow him the chance to earn money by doing extra chores (specifically ones that mommy doesn’t like!).

    My favorite piggy bank was a dark blue pig that my grandma gave me. I seldom put money in it, opting for a plastic container hidden in my sock drawer, but it was always on my shelf.