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.
- 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.
- It drives home the association between work and pay. You work, you get paid. No work, no pay.
- 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.
- 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.
- It encourages an appreciation for the activities and possessions we do get to enjoy.
So, how do you handle kids and money?