The Big Deal About Money

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Did you ever find money on the sidewalk? Pretty exciting, isn’t it?

I once found 60 dollars by the side of the road when I was on vacation. There was no way to find out who had lost the money. I felt like a Christmas present had just dropped down from the sky. I started thinking about what I could buy with 60 dollars. Then my friends decided that since the money wasn’t mine, I shouldn’t get to keep it. They told me I had to take them all out to dinner.

My excitement disappeared. I could almost hear it go “Poof!”

When you stop to think about it, though, why do we get so excited about pieces of metal or paper with designs stamped on them? Isn’t that a little weird?

The early Christians thought so. They decided to use their money to serve God and others instead of keeping it for themselves. The book of Acts says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone [who] had need” (Acts 2:44-45).

Wow. What if everyone lived like that? There’s enough money in the world to make sure that no one—not one single person—would ever be hungry or homeless again. All it takes is people who are willing to share.

That’s the big deal about money.

One Cow, Please

Money hasn’t always been made of metal or paper. Here are some other things that have been used for money:

•    cows, sheep, and camels

•    cowry shells

•    deerskin or leather

•    wampum (strings of clamshell beads)

•    bamboo

•    cut up pots and pans

Giving = Loving

There’s a big word that people use when they talk about giving money away to people who need it. That word is philanthropy (say it “fill-ANTH-row-pea.”) It comes from Greek words that mean “love of humankind.” So giving money away is really a way to love other people.

Ask an adult to help you find a way to love people by giving money away. If you care about sick kids or homeless people, for example, find an organization that helps them. Save up your money for a year, then give it to the organization. Ask the organization to put you on its mailing list so you can see how your gift helps people.

Fun Facts

The first coins with a value marked on them were made by the Lydians about 600 years before Jesus was born. The Lydians lived in the place we now call Turkey.

When coins were made of real gold and silver, people sometimes shaved the edges off so they could keep the valuable metal. Some smart person started designing coins with ridges on the edges so people couldn’t shave them down.The first U.S. coins were designed by Paul Revere and made in Philadelphia in 1793. Horses provided the power for the coin-making machines.The average coin lasts 25-30 years before it wears out—but the average paper bill lasts only about 18 months!

Art in Your Pocket

Why is money, especially paper money, so fancy? Well, a complicated design makes it hard for someone to print fake (or “counterfeit”) money. People who design money include things like fancy pictures, watermarks, tiny threads, and tiny strips of metal so people will know it’s real money.

Some coins and paper money are like little works of art. To see what money from all around the world looks like, check out these websites:

•    www.joelscoins.com/coinsets.htm

•    www.banknotes.com/ISOcodes.htm

Piggy Banks

Ever wonder why most coin banks are shaped like pigs? Here’s the answer: In the 15th century, the English word pygg was the name of a kind of orange clay many people used for making jars and dishes. Some people stored their extra coins in pygg jars, which they also called “pygg banks.” Then one day some funny person decided to make a coin bank out of pygg in the shape of a pig. The idea caught on, and now kids all over the world keep their money in “piggy banks.”

Dollar Detective

Make the most of your money by becoming a “dollar detective” to find out cool stuff about other countries. Here’s how:

1.    Get a poster-size map of the world and put it on a bulletin board.

2.    Start collecting coins from other countries. Ask your friends and family (or the missionaries from your church) to bring you back a coin or some paper money when they travel. Spend some of your allowance at a coin shop.

3.    When you collect a new coin, put it in a plastic coin holder and pin it to its country on your map.

4.    Here’s where you get to use your detective skills. Investigate the country the money is from. Use encyclopedias, the Internet, and library books. Find the answers to questions like these:

•    What are the people like?

•    What is the weather like?

•    What would you want to see there?

•    What are some of the country’s problems?

•    Would you like to live there?


About the Author

Sandy Swartzentruber serves as the resource coordinator for Faith Formation Ministries and is a member of Sherman Street CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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