Shopping shouldn’t be a dreaded activity. Okay it’s not always the funnest with little ones, but it shouldn’t always be completely terrible. Throw the child in the cart, try and distract him when near anything they might want, mentally prepare to say no 500 million times when he asks for the “super cool ninja car”, or “the new legos”, or finally in desperation, “some gum”, and ignore any ensuing tantrums.
From the time my kids were big enough to talk and ask for things my standard response was, “Did you bring your money?” or if it’s something I actually want them to have, “Do you have enough money to pay me back when we get home?” Granted, when they were 2, they’d find a quarter on the floor and squeal in delight because now they had money and could go by the new truck they had been wanting -no system is perfect.
As they got bigger they started to connect the dots and began to ask for ways to earn money.
*This picture is of Max trying to decide how to spend his $2 – he settled on the ball*
Everyone has different needs and priorities when it comes to money, but this is what we do.
They earn money by:
1.) Doing their daily chores and marking them off as complete on their chart. If they don’t mark them off they don’t get paid. These are adjusted according to age, but include practicing, cleaning room, homework, dishes etc. The bigger kids earn $1/week for this and Max earns 50 cents.
2.) Doing extra jobs. If they want to earn more than $1/week they can ask me for more work. I love it. They do jobs that I don’t normally get to.
dust blinds – 50 cents a window
scrub baseboards- $1/room
fold laundry – 50 cents/load
Organize and clean out doors
Wash the car inside and out
As they get older and do a better job, they have the potential to earn more. My brother was appalled when he learned they only earned $1/room to scrub baseboards until I pointed out that the worker was 4 and therefore the cleanliness would be to a 4-year-old’s standards. I like it to take a long time for them to save up for something, even if it’s small. If it’s easy, the point is lost.
They get paid, in cash, on Sunday mornings. I look at their charts and see if they’ve been filled out (I admit I’m a sucker. If I know they’ve done the jobs and it’s mostly filled out I let them slide. But I’m working on being stricter about that.) If they’ve done any extra jobs during the week I write it down in Evernote on my phone and pay them that money Sunday as well.
Once they are paid, we sit down and divide the money into 3 categories:
We pay the money out in that order, charity, savings, and then the remainder to spending, a subtle reinforcement of priorities.
Right now 20% of their earnings is not a lot – but throughout a lifetime it will bring them freedom and peace.
What they learn:
How to work
You have to work to get money
To spend their money wisely
To always give and pay their savings first
Cheaper toys aren’t always better
To look for a good deal
You can’t buy something without first earning the money
This is a slight modification of the system my parents had for me growing up. As I got older I saw the rewards from saving. Adding to my savings account became almost addicting, I’d get a high as I saw the numbers rise. When I was getting a regular paycheck in high school it got to the point where if my paycheck was $483, I would pay tithing, put $400 in savings and keep the balance for fun. I was able to pay for college (my parents covered rent and books because they are awesome) but I paid the rest and it was incredibly satisfying to do so. I felt free to make my own choices regarding which school I went to, my major, and what I did with my time because I had earned the responsibility.
I do have one weakness…. I will almost always buy my kids books.