Thursday, August 27, 2009

Make the Kiddies Pay

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Edited to add: Holly has a great post about Kids and Money, too. Be sure to read it!
I have been thinking for a while about how to word this post so that it doesn't sound like I'm a big fat meanie, but I'm at a loss, so I'll just lay it out there and let the big fat meanie chips fall where they may.

We make our kids pay for stuff.


If the youth group is going to Six Flags, we tell them that sounds like a fantastic time. And then we ask them if they think they can afford it. (They decided they couldn't.)

If the youth group is going out to eat after a devotional, our kids know they can either eat at home or pack some cash. Their own cash. (They decided to eat at home.)

If they wish and dream for an American Girl Doll, we drool with them over the catalogs and then help them count their money.

If we go to a carnival and they want to ride more than the two or three rides we have bought tickets for, they dig into their own pockets for the money.

Don't get me wrong. We have plenty of fun together. We love visiting amusement parks, enjoying nature, and going to museums.

But if any of our children chooses to do extra activities that we have not budgeted for, they must pay for that themselves.

They know and understand this and they plan and save and consider very carefully what they would like to spend their money on. At the Fourth of July parade we attended, a couple of the children brought their own money and decided to buy the very pricey $5 ice cream cone some of the street vendors were selling. A few of the others thought that was a waste of hard earned cash, though, and held onto their savings.

We try to provide plenty of opportunities to earn cash, and we try to make sure the work is actually work . The seven year old picks up dog, er, leavings out of the back yard for $5/month. The nine year old cleans my bathroom and bedroom for $3/week. The twelve year old mows the yard and the 14 year old weed eats and edges.

We also try pretty hard not to decide for them whether they are spending their money wisely or foolishly. We talk it over, point out the pros and cons and, for the most part, let them decide for themselves. It's amazing the time they put into considering whether to part with their cash!

We feel like this philosophy accomplishes several things.

  1. It curtails a lot of money from flying out of my purse every time I turn around and there is another activity to pay for.
  2. It drives home the association between work and pay. You work, you get paid. No work, no pay.
  3. It teaches them to consider whether a thing is worth the work they have put into the money the thing costs. An American Girl doll costs an awful lot of picked up poop. It'll make a girl think twice about shelling out that hard earned money.
  4. It squelches the spoiled attitude of entitlement. When they see how hard they must work to earn their money, they know how hard Daddy works to earn the money we use to run our family of nine.
  5. It encourages an appreciation for the activities and possessions we do get to enjoy.

So, how do you handle kids and money?


Amy -Cutting Coupons in KC said...

You are not a big meanie!! I love this idea and we are trying to start this concept with our 5 year old. It is so important that kids learn the value of money and how to work hard. We have always taught our son that our wallets are not bottomless. We don't want to scare him and make him think we have no money but we want him to understand how to budget and save money. We have also taught him to evaluate purchases. Do we really need it? Is it on sale or will it be on sale in the near future? Is it in our budget? My son is also used to hearing the word "NO". We do not get everything we want but we are very blessed to have everything we need.

Christian Frugal Mama said...

What a fabulous way to teach your children about money. I'm sure it can be difficult and heart wrenching at times, but you are giving them a gift that will last their lifetimes!

BusyMom said...

My son recently purchased a DS. He has wanted one for a long time, saving for almost a year to get it. Each time we would go shopping and he wanted something, he had to decide if he was willing to delay the purchase of a DS in order to get the immediate gratification of something else. I am happy to say that some things he decided to purchase and others he decided he could do with out. It is so important to teach kids that money is not unlimited and that there are trade offs - you can't have everything, you have to decide what is important and what you are willing to wait for.

My daughter ("me too") seems to be catching on at the age of 2. When we go shopping, she packs her coupons too!

Jamie said...

What is a good age to start kids on something like this? My oldest is 4 and that seems a bit young. Also, if your child doesn't pick up the poop one day or whines and complains about it, does the week of pay get docked or dropped altogether?

Smockity Frocks said...

It is difficult at times. For instance, they didn't go to Six Flags because we couldn't fork over the big bucks for a ticket, and one didn't have the money and the other wasn't willing to part with it.

Jamie, Our 7 y.o. is the youngest one that has a paying job. We just started giving a deadline for the work being done in order to be paid the full wage. If it isn't done by, say, 7:00p.m. every evening, they are docked 50 cents or so. They know if they whine about it we'll let someone else have that job. There is always someone waiting in the wings to swoop in on it!

karen b said...

my kids have both received allowances since they were 6; they receive $5 a week and are expected to give $1 a week to the collection plate at church; we expect them to use their own money for most "luxury" items; (they both saved up for 6-8 months to buy iPods); ashley earns extra money by babysitting; she now shares the cost of her "non-essential" clothes and accessories; if they are saving up for something expensive, sometimes their grandparents will give them a donation for a birthday or christmas gift

it's so important to teach our kids about money -- so many people out there in financial trouble!

Jennifer said...

You are doing it absolutely right! I really wish more parents would do this with their children...ok I'll get off my soapbox because I'm sure you understand what happens if you just buy your kids everything.

My parents did pretty much the same thing. I saved up half of the money for an american girl doll, and my parents gave me the rest for my birthday. I loved that doll more than my friends loved theirs because I had put so much into it.

When I wanted to pick out my own clothing my mom gave me a clothing budget and told me I could either buy 20 or 30 things at Goodwill, or 2 or 3 things at the mall. Needless to say, I saw the value in thrift store shopping and I am still a fan to this day.

My parents paid for the majority of college, but I had to fork over a couple thousand every year. I think that really helped me to be sure I definitely wanted to go to the school I had chosen. My husband's parents paid his entire tuition, room and board, books, everything, and he said he wished that he would have had to pay part of it because it would have made him more committed to it.

Mrs. Huse Clifton said...

We make our children pay for some things. For instance the Ringling Bros. Circus was coming in May. I checked out ticket prices and the different levels of tickets and what would be the most fun for the experience. We liked a high price ticket package that would include the children getting to be a part of the show. But this would be $100 a person. So in January we got a countdown ticker to let the kids know how much longer they would have to wait. And an empty jar so the could save up and see how much they are saving. Everytime they found (from our wallets) money,earned or received money they excitedly put it in the jar. Their grandparents also would donate a dollar for each of them when ever they came over. The kids were so excited to go and happy to save for it. In the end we did not save enough for the special package but we did save enough to go and have a great time. We paid for tickets, parking, cotton candy and soda all out of what we saved.

Michelle said...

My kids, ages 5 and up, earn an allowance by doing chores. I make them save up $5 before they can buy anything because then I hear then whine that they wanted something but didn't have the money for it. They would blow it on stuff like ice cream from the ice cream truck. Thankfully after 2 mos of that rule they figured it out for themselves when they were able to put their money together and purchase a big item. Now if I could only get them motivated to earn more money. I have a 15 passenger that needs to be cleaned out ;).

Amy said...

I love this! Now if I can just think of some jobs to permanently hand over to my six year old that I would actually PAY him for doing.....

Weird Unsocialized Mom said...

I don't think that's mean at all. I think that you're providing your kids with very practical life skills. You're giving them an understanding of money that I wish I'd had when I got married. It would have saved my husband and I a lot of stress and debt.

I'll admit that I'm not doing an especially good job of teaching my kids about money, but you've given me some wonderful food for thought. I see a discussion with my crew about money and how to earn it coming up in our future.

Kara said...

We've been trying to do this as well. The only problem we run into is my dear hubby will say, "You let them buy two African Dwarf frogs (plus habitat and food for 1 year) for 30 dollars?!!" And I calmly reply, "Yes, they used their own money and it was their choice." I go over the pros and cons with them, but if they want it in the end I let them spend their money. Hubby though is having a difficult time with not just telling them "NO!" So we're working on the finer points of this system, LOL.

Smockity Frocks said...

A couple of things to add:

1) Have y'all seen Holly's post on kids and money? Excellent stuff!

2) I think an important element to this is to make sure the child experiences the feeling of not getting everything he wants. In other words, if he spent his $5 on an overpriced ice cream cone, and then wants to ride the rides the other kids chose, he must face the consequences of his choices and not ride the rides. It is hard to say "no" and deprive them of activities, but I think it is a necessary component of character development.

3) I hope y'all don't think we are all wise and noble and that's how we came up with this. It is mostly out of necessity. We simply can't AFFORD to give them everything they want.

abba12 said...

I have something important that I feel to add.

Growing up we had a similar system, however, we still had our basic chores. These weren't paid as my parents felt it was important that children realize there's some responsibilities that come with being in a family, and also understand they wont be rewarded for everything they do. These chores were done because we were asked to and because we were part of a family and made messes and clutter and dishes like everyone else. we also recieved a small amount of pocket money each week so that we knew we had our own budget for 'luxuries'. I think the direct connection some parents make between regular chores like washing up and being paid can also set the wrong example. However, if we did something extra, like washed the car or picked up dog poop, we received some extra money that week, so we learned that if we wanted to buy something that cost more than a few weeks of saving (or as we got older wanted to do things like eat out after youth) we would need to pay for that and work hard to get enough money to pay for it.

I think this hit a nice medium with us.

Smockity Frocks said...

Abba12, Don't worry. We assign plenty o' chores. Some call it child labor, but we tell them to be quiet and finish loading the dishwasher.

Amy said...

"be quiet and finish loading the dishwasher"... heehee!

Forgive me for being off topic, but have you been by my blog lately? There is a bit of news you should see! (And a little contest, too!)

Lisa said...

Great post! You may want to pitch it to Money Saving Mom, she runs guest posts featuring this topic all the time.


Kathryn said...

For my crowd I pay 1/2 for jr. high activities and none of sr. high ones. When we go to the movies or a fair I pay for the tickets and I might give everyone a set amount for a ride or a treat everything after that is their money. Last week we had a work week and deep cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed the floors,washed the curtains and windows, and tidied up the yard. I kept a running tally on a whiteboard for the money they earned. At the end of the week the older ones had earned enough to buy their own MP3 player and the little guy had enough to buy a CD player.

Heather said...

Sounds like a fabulous idea to me. I was wondering, how do you divide up the paying jobs? If we offered paying jobs in our house I think there's be heated discussions, lol, over so-and-so hogging all the jobs or other issues like that.

Sarah Stone said...

This is such a good post - thank you so much for sharing how you do things. My twins are 6 so I think it's a good time to bring in some regular job that they do each to earn some more money. They both get a small amount of pocket money each already that mainly goes on a weekly bag of sweets. Sometimes one of them will not spend all of it and put the remainder in their 'savings' purse, which is encouraging.

They can also earn a small amount for individual tasks like extra tidying, on top of the normal amount.

Kimarie @ Cardamom's Pod said...

Thanks for giving some ideas with prices. I would definitely pay someone to clean my bedroom and bathroom - since I don't seem to find the time to get to it with teaching everyone else to do their work. My kids love extra chores for cash. Our rule is they can't do any extra cash chores until their regular ones are done.

I also agree about the "controlled deprivation" - it's much safer for the children to learn now at home. The consequences will hopefully help them to avoid these situations when they have their own homes.

It's worked well for us, when dealing with complaining or slow working on a regular (non-paid) chore, to add an extra chore later "so that you can learn to work quickly and quietly." We keep on adding chores (short, simple ones) if they whine about that. They usually get quiet and busy really quick!

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