Friday, July 8, 2011

Three Cups - A Book About Money That Could Change a Child's Life


Three Cups

It's not how much money you have that is important, it's how you use it. ~Tony Townsley, CPA

I recently read this wonderful book, written by Mark St. Germaine, and beautifully illustrated by April Willy.  The title is Three Cups and it is based on a true story, as told to the author by Mr. Tony Townsley.

By the time I reached the last page, I had tears in my eyes.  The book simply and perfectly told exactly what I have been trying to teach my sons about money for years.

When they were little, it was rather easy to direct them financially.  They didn't get money often, and when they did, it went straight into a piggy bank.  Now, they are a little bit older, and they are at the age where birthdays and Christmas for the twins looks like this:

birthday money

Before the cake and ice cream are even cleared from the table, they are already talking about what they want to buy.   I wonder to myself.. "Didn't they even hear all the things we talked about?  I've told them how important it is to save!!  They know impulse buying is a bad habit!!  Don't they Listen?!?!?"

Well, of course they listen.  But what child can remember all those words when they have so much money sitting in front of them?  Words will evaporate and fly away as soon as they are spoken, but a book with gorgeous illustrations - a story with a beginning, a middle and an end -  that's way more powerful!

This book tells the story of three cups that a young boy received for his birthday.  He was not terribly impressed at first, but the cups are the start of a fantastic adventure.

Three cups

With these cups, the boy learned to divide any money he received amongst them.   One cup was for saving, one for spending, and one for charity.  (why didn't I think of that?!?!)   The system is physical!  It's tangible!  And it's simple.  We see how this pays off for him all the way through to adulthood.

Three Cups

The book came the same week as our boys' birthday, which was perfect timing. We read the book together, and they liked it, very much.   (Especially because the discussion also included a promise of a weekly allowance!)   We discussed how much would go into each cup, and I told them how I used a very similar system every time their father earned a paycheck.

It opened the door to a good discussion, and it helped them to understand the things they have seen for years.  They know we give to charity, and they have heard me politely decline countless clerks who have tried to convince me to apply for credit cards.  They've seen their father and I discuss big purchases and how we would manage to pay for them, and they have seen my aversion to borrowing.  Now these concepts are a part of their world, too.

In order to celebrate our new system, we went to the bank and we added their names to their savings accounts.  They put some of their birthday money into the accounts, and when their savings cup gets full, we'll go back to the bank to make more deposits together.

Three Cups

I loved Three Cups, and I think every child should have a copy.  You can learn more about the book, and it's creators at www.3cupsbook.com .  (Be sure to watch the video by clicking on the upper left corner of the page.)  You can order from the website, or from Amazon.com.  It is a wonderful $10.00 investment in your child's future.

The book is technically for ages 4-12, but it is relevant for anyone - of any age!  (I know plenty of adults who could use this book!)  The hardcover volume consists of 24 pages, and two of those are a parent's guide with great ideas about how to use the book and the 3 cups system most effectively.

The website also has a page of testimonials, another where readers to share their own 3 cups adventures, and a submission form for anyone who wants to include their experience, too.
Mark St. Germain - author This endearing, true story of love, responsibility and charity is retold tenderly by Mark St. Germain whose stage, television and screenwriting credits include: Camping with Henry and TomGifts of the MagiThe Cosby Show, and the critically acclaimed motion picture Duma.
April Willy - illustrator Three Cups is illustrated by award-winning painter April Willy, whose children's book credits include: Have You Ever Seen A Moose Taking A Bath?Have You Ever Seen A Moose Brushing His Teeth?Why is Mommy Sleeping? and Full Moon Maxi.
TonyTownsley, CPA - As new parents, my wife and I wanted to find a way to teach our children about money, so we agreed on using a weekly allowance to accomplish this. We thought it equally important to teach our children good values as related to money (saving, spending and charity) to help them develop positive habits early on that would last them the rest of their lives. This was when we came up with the idea of using three cups. We've tried to teach our children that it is not how much money you have that is important, it's how you use it. The three cups we have given them have led us on many wonderful adventures together and have brought our family a lot of joy. We hope you will experience the same joy, excitement and success using three cups with your children... and will share the Three Cups story with others.

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