How to teach kids about money using the My Coke Rewards program
Soda? Soooo not good for kids**, and seemingly completely unrelated when figuring out how to teach kids about money.
Yet with most things that aren’t “good” for us in life (hellooooo french fries!), there are ways to extract valuable nuggets from it.
For us, extracting “valuable” nuggets from my husband’s/mother’s Coca-Cola
addiction loyalty has meant scoring Nike gift cards through Coke’s loyalty reward program.
And for your child? It’s using this same program to learn some pretty powerful money lessons.
But first, let’s learn more about the program itself.
** your child does not have to increase soda intake to do these activities − see ideas below for how to get your hands on lots of caps without drinking any soda!
What is the My Coke Rewards Loyalty Program?
You’ve probably heard of the My Coke Rewards program (MCR). Coke developed it back in 2006, intending to increase loyalty (as if my husband needs another excuse to drink more Coke!). There are codes imprinted on most Coke products, such as under the caps or on the cardboard tear-away area of 12-packs.
You input these codes into their website, MyCokeRewards.com, and then redeem accumulated points for gift cards, merchandise, and sweepstake entries.
So what does this have to do with money lessons for your child?
4 My Coke Reward Money Lessons for Your Child
While inputting a bunch of codes the other day − thanks, Mom! − I realized there are some valuable money lessons to be learned through this program.
Some are more complex than others, so I’ve numbered them from easiest to grasp to most difficult.
Where to begin with your own child? Choose the lesson you’d like to reinforce with your own child based on either the questions or feedback they naturally raise while inputting the codes, or based on where their personal money development is at the moment.
Lesson #1: “Trash” Can Equal Cash
Products have end lives, and they don’t have to be just the trash can. In fact, lots of “trash” still has monetary value you can extract from it.
And while kids have been learning about recycling for years (I remember thinking how hip it was when the trashcan on Mac desktops were replaced with a recycling bin), they probably don’t understand the money value firsthand because it’s the recycling companies reaping the extra bucks from the recycling process, not them.
Lesson #2: Even as a Kid You Can Contribute to Your Family’s Bottom Line
Sometimes kids want to feel like they are contributing and helping Mom and Dad. A lot of this depends on their age, of course, but in case yours is dying to throw their hat in the financial ring for the family, this lesson is for them.
Lesson #3: Time is Valuable
Time is money. Every day we sell our time, whether we earn $0/hour for it, or $500/hour for it.
Some activities are definitely worth earning nothing for, like family time, doing homework, being a kid, etc.
But some activities? Well, we’re just piddling our time away on them with very little gain.
This has played out in my own life. Since I grew up on a family dairy farm − work between all of us was probably 12 hours per day for little income − I grew comfortable with selling my time for very little money. Because of my own experience, I encourage this activity early and often with your youngsters.
Chances are, your child is not old enough to work yet. So they can start to drive this valuable lesson home using the MyCokeRewards program to calculate their time/hour earned entering codes.
Lesson #4: It’s Not Worth Consuming More Just for the Reward Points
Overly excited kids might get the idea that consuming more Coke will reap more codes, which will reap them more points.
In fact, Coca-Cola is banking on lots of adults changing their behavior in this way.
But it’s important to curb their enthusiasm with a little dose of money realism.
The fact is, habits are expensive. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have habits − you won’t see me giving up my Iced Soy Chais anytime soon − but you should know what they cost and make sure that is something you:
a): can afford, and
b): want to make a priority
Increasing consumption to get more reward points is almost never a good idea from a money perspective (and probably from many other perspective as well). Let’s really illustrate this to your child.
Suggestions for How to Obtain Soda Caps Without Increasing Your Child’s Soda Consumption
If you’re like me, then you know not just one, but TWO cokeaholics in your life. While we’ve whittled my husband’s addiction down to just one 12-pack every other week (I think he’s sneaking cokes at work), my mother is going strong since the 80s with her 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke.
So in our family, Mom is the source for soda caps. She collects them in bags, and twice a year gifts a bag to whomever is using the MyCokeRewards program (*ahem*, while that used to be both me AND my sister, it’s now just me. Apparently I’m still trying to learn Lesson #3).
What if you don’t have a cokeaholic in your inner circle?
Here are three other ways to obtain MyCokeReward points and get your child started learning those lessons:
- Start a Collection at the Office: Ask permission to put a baggie or basket in your office’s break room − preferably near the vending machine − and leave a note asking others to kindly leave their Coke product caps for your use.
- Hit Up Your Kid’s Team or Organization: Are you a team coach, Girl Scout Troop leader, or big in another organization with kids? If so, at meetings and events be sure to collect caps from others.
- Ask Local Wholesale Users of Coke Products to Save the Points: I’ve got a coffee + bagel shop around the corner to our house. I go there periodically for an onion bagel, toasted, with cream cheese (ooh, lala!). About a year ago I noticed that they had the wholesale cartons of cokes and Diet Cokes sitting in the corner. So, I asked them if I could use their empty boxes and explained to them the rewards program. They were happy to hand them over!
- Purchase Products Other than Soda: Coca-cola products you can use to participate also include brands such as Dasani water and Powerade. So you can still participate through purchases without having to up your family’s soda intake.
- Conduct a Google Search: Search using the term, “Free MyCokeRewards Point Codes”.