American in Spain

Three Year Old Economist

January 14, 2013

Europe, home of Leonardo and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin artToday is a Monday, and my three year old daughter told me, "I don't like the days when I have to go to school and you and Mommy have to go to work." Yeah, me neither, sister! Socratically, I inquired, "If we don't go to work, where will we get the money to buy things?" She responded, "From your purse or cartera." "And when my wallet is empty?" I pushed on… "From the store," she answered, unphased. I furrowed my brow. She continued, "Every time you buy something at the store, they give you money!" She is, of course, referring to the curious (to a toddler) fact that often in cash purchases, the number of monetary items given by the buyer is fewer than the number of monetary items of change given back by the cashier. She continued, "So if we need money, we just go to the store and buy something, and then they give us money!"

I would've thought that a child would isolate the ATM as the source of domestic income. It never occurred to me that it would be the change in normal transactions. She does really like to participate in the shopping process by giving some coins from her coin purse and saving the change. Sometimes I forget to include her in the transaction, but the cashier is a good friend and is willing to take one of Nora's coins, a 1€ coin, for example, and give her back two 0.50€ coins.

Coin Splash

The more I learn about macroeconomics and federal deficit spending, the more it seems to make about as much sense as staying home from work and "making" money from daily bread transactions. Perhaps she's onto something here…