I’ve been thinking on this one for years. Parents have called and emailed me over the years, since I first created The Money Camp for Kids and Teens (now called Camp Millionaire) and told me that they want their children to learn the ‘value of a buck.’ I remember thinking the very first time I heard that, “Is that what they really mean?” I wasn’t convinced anyone could actually teach anyone else the value of their bucks.

Well, it’s seven years later, I’m still putting on financial literacy programs for all ages and I still hear that phrase and I still question it every time. So, I thought I’d ponder it here to see what came out of my brain about it.

We look at the value of our dollars as what they can buy, period. Kids do it, parents do it, business owners do and certainly financial institutions and homeowners did it. The question seems to be then, “How much ‘value’ does each of our bucks actual hold. In other words, what value do we ascribe to it relative to what others ascribe to their bucks and can we trade them one for another?

Good question. Savvy financial investors that invest in money do this all day long! Those of us who aren’t so savvy, trade the value in our bucks for something else we need or want that we consider of equal or more value. And don’t we love getting ‘more value’ for our dollars? Is this even possible? If we pay $1 for something that we ‘think or feel’ should be $2, are we just alluding ourselves? Isn’t the value really $2 then?

And then there’s the ultimate question: How do we actually determine the value of those bucks? Well, it’s all relative, just like everything else in life. It depends…on what we’re trading them for. It depends…on what country we’re in. It depends…on who is doing the trading of the bucks. And more…

Interesting idea this value of a buck. But what I really think parents mean by this is that they want their kids to understand that there IS some intrinsic value in the dollar bills they so readily spend on this and that and that IF they kept a few of them, invested them wisely over a period of time, they’d have MORE bucks. So, maybe what they really mean is the ‘value of that dollar over a long period of time.

Regardless of what parents mean, I think I know what they want us to teach their kids: that money is valuable…period.