About · Press · Contact · Write For Us · Top Personal Finance Blogs
Featured In:

All I Need to Know about Money I Learned in Kindergarten

By Kim Petch

personal finance tipsThere’s an interesting poem by Robert Fulghum from a book called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I first came across it while I was training to be a teacher. Working in a number of kindergarten classrooms made me realize that there was a lot of truth in the poem, but I didn’t fully appreciate its message until I had children of my own.

Since it’s Fall and the kids are back in school, I thought we might look at some of the major themes of the poem and see how they apply to personal finance. The bullet points under each theme are the actual kindergarten lessons mentioned in the poem. They are followed by a few important ways we might be able to use them as we navigate our financial life. Surprisingly, these Kindergarten lessons are still very applicable to our lives.

1. We’re All in This Together

  • Share everything.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

We’ve evolved into an “every man for himself” kind of society over the past couple of decades. We tend to argue more than debate, and compete rather than collaborate. Given the financial challenges we face globally, I’d have to say that approach isn’t working very well for us right now.

Our greatest accomplishments are achieved when we work together. Sharing our money with those less fortunate than ourselves feels good, and it often comes back to us in ways that we can’t predict ahead of time. What goes around comes around.

2. Be a Good Citizen

  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

At first I thought the hitting advice was a little off-course for a personal finance post, but if you think about it, people have done a lot worse than hitting one another over money. Making money by taking it from others or otherwise “gaming” the system will not provide the satisfaction of earning money through consistent effort and prudent management. If bending the rules to get ahead at work, in business, or with your taxes moves you ahead, rest assured that success will be temporary. Again, what goes around comes around. If you do find yourself on the wrong side of accepted ethics, a sincere apology coupled with adequate reparations can go a long way toward making amends, and perhaps cementing a valuable relationship that might otherwise have been lost.

3. Organization & Maintenance Matter

  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.

I’m a huge fan of cleaning up your own mess – not just because it’s absolutely the right thing to do, but because it’s really empowering to dig yourself out of a hole of your own making. Still, an even better plan is to avoid that hole in the first place. Organizing your finances with the use of a proper filing, budgeting, and organization system can prevent “accidents” like overdraft charges, excessive debt, and overspending. Like washing your hands before eating, these tasks can be easy to forget and kind of tedious, but a healthier life and a stronger balance sheet are worth it.

4. Everything in Moderation

  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.

Balance has become increasingly important to me over the years and the concept, like the others in this poem, applies to all areas of our lives – finance included. It’s great to be right on top of your budgeting, spending and investments. But let’s not forget why we’re going through all of this work in the first place. We want to enjoy the good things in life. Some of those things can be bought. Most cannot.

I don’t know of many working adults who can take a nap each afternoon or many who ever take the time to make a meal out of milk and cookies. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make the time to allocate money for the fun stuff every now and again. And yeah – sometimes a quick nap on a Saturday afternoon is just what you need to tackle those financial issues with renewed vigor and to simply be happy.

5. Pay Attention: Time Is of the Essence

  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

We can’t know what will happen in our lives, the economy, or the how the stock market will perform next year or next decade. In the end, all we can really do is our best. The main goals of our time in the kindergarten classroom, and of our limited time on this planet, are to learn as much as we can, have fun doing it, and leave it in better condition than we found it. If you can do all of those things, you’ll pass kindergarten – and life – with flying colors.

What are some of the basics you learned in kindergarten that have stayed with you?

Kim Petch
Kim is the writer behind Balance Junkie, a blog about personal finance, economics, investing, and life balance. You can also find her articles featured on Seeking Alpha. She's a big fan of her three sons, paying down the mortgage and baseball - in that order.

Related Articles

  • http://hopetoprosper.com Bret @ Hope to Prosper

    Awesome post Kim.

    One of the things I have noticed within my lifetime is that people have become increasingly selfish and disrespectful of others. This also seems to correspond to a lack of integrity. I keep hoping Americans will become less divided and more thoughtsull of the opinions of others. But, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

    • http://www.moneycrashers.com Kim Petch

      Maybe it will take a crisis in order for people to get back to basics, but I think that time will come. I just don’t know exactly when. In the meantime, I try to surround myself with people and ideas I respect whenever possible, and I insulate myself from pop culture by limiting my exposure to it.

      Thanks for your comment!

The content on MoneyCrashers.com is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers. We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.

Advertiser Disclosure: The offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which MoneyCrashers.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. MoneyCrashers.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.