I’ve never understood why people say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Because money is printed on paper, and paper comes from trees. So therefore money really is made or “grown” on trees. Right?

My kids don’t understand the saying either. Because for them money isn’t even made out of paper. It comes from plastic – a small rectangular thin piece of hand-held plastic to be precise.

They know exactly how the magic plastic card works. Just swipe it next to the checkout stand and viola! You’ve just paid.

They aren’t stupid. They’ve seen me do it a thousand times.

I put most of our family’s purchases on my credit card. Not because we can’t pay for what we buy, but because I have big plans to take my little family to Italy next year and am hoping to purchase our airfare with credit card miles. So I charge everything I can then pay my card off every two weeks.

I guess my children have been watching me closer than I realized. Last week I lost my credit card and if it weren’t for the “help” of my 4-year-old I never would have found it.

Now I have written multiple times about my stressed-out-OCD-I-can’t-lose-anything personality. So you can imagine my anxiety when my platinum card went missing. I was certain someone had taken it and was racking up my bill, skyrocketing past my spending limit.

Luckily I checked my account online and no new charges had been made, but I still couldn’t find the card.

I ripped through the house searching every coat, pant and jacket pocket that I own. I tore through my diaper bag and wallet praying I would find it shoved in the wrong spot.

After church on Sunday I stuck my head under each and every seat, nook and cranny in my van, hoping the card had slipped through a crack.

That’s when my 4-year-old spoke up.

“What are you doing mom?” he said.

“Looking for my credit card,” I replied.

“Have you checked my mission jar,” he said.

No. I had not checked his mission jar. Why would I check his mission jar? I never touch that jar – the glass-tile piggy bank he stores coins in. (He’s saving his coins to go on an LDS mission.)

I raced inside and snatched the jar. Sure enough, my shiny plastic card was tucked inside. I was so happy.

Despite my relief in finding my charge card, I still can’t believe he took it. And that he remembered where he put it.

But what I really can’t believe is how smart he is.

He told me he took my card and put it in his mission jar so he would have a way to pay for his “bills.”  You know as well as I that he doesn’t have any “bills.” But I guess it’s better to be prepared. Even if your emergency mission fund is a piece of plastic that comes with a 19 percent interest rate.

He’s as smart as the average American. When you need to pay for something expensive – like a mission – pull out the plastic.

It looks like we need to have a lesson on saving, and then another one on stealing.

I guess my card really was stolen. Luckily, it was taken by someone who isn’t quite old enough to use it – yet.

Out of curiosity I did some online research and found out that United States “paper” money is made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. I guess money really doesn’t grow on trees.

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