Last week was the beginning of chores for the girls. Children and chores seems to be another very touchy subject that you are either totally for or totally against. Oddly enough, I agree with many points that both sides of the table make. Chad and I didn’t decide to start chores so that we had less on our plates or because we feel like we need to pay our children to simply do their part. Our reasoning was much greater than either of those points.
Financial responsibility. Yes, we are paying our children for their chores to teach financial responsibility at age 5 and 2-weeks-shy-of-3. To you, that might sound crazy. To someone who has the background that Chad and I have, it probably sounds like a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, it took Chad and I way too long to learn how to manage our finances responsibly. When we finally grasped the big idea (thanks to a Dave Ramsey class), luckily we took it and ran with it. We ran far and wide and have set ourselves up pretty nicely for day-to-day living and our future (more about how we got out of debt in a future post). Aside from hoping to grow independent, respectful, responsible, nice human beings, some of our top parenting goals revolve around money.
- We would love to pay fully for the education portion of the girls’ college (notice I said the education portion – the extracurriculars, cute clothes, and fancy dinners will be on them).
- We also hope that by beginning to teach them at this age about financial responsibility, they will never go into debt (other than a mortgage).
Why? Although we might be able to, we realize that by paying for everything they ask for the moment they ask for it will only hinder their sense of financial responsibility. This notion has to be taught, just like other life lessons. If we wait until they are old enough for an after-school job, we are missing valuable teaching time. At that point, bad money habits may have already been learned.
What does it look like? You might be wondering what in the world this looks like. We have a chart for each child. The days of the week are down one side and the chores are listed at the top. For each chore they complete, they get a check mark in the box. Each check mark pays $0.25 at the end of the week. The girls don’t have all the same chores; some of Ella’s are more involved and age-appropriate. Some of the chores are daily things: hang up coat and book bag, put dirty clothes in the basket, and clean up their own dishes after dinner. Some of the chores are as needed: laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and emptying trash cans around the house. The specific expectation for each chore is made clear and agreed upon between Chad and I and the girls, collaboratively. Of course “laundry” for Ella doesn’t entail doing loads of laundry independently….for now 😉
How does this teach financial responsibility? When payday rolls around, it’s a family math lesson to figure out how much money was earned. First, we count the check marks. Then, we turn that in to quarters. For now, Chad and I convert that into dollar amounts for them. We don’t stop there. They have to then figure out half. The deal is that they have to put half their money in their piggy banks to be deposited into their savings account or 529 plan. The other half goes in their wallet. We have ongoing discussions about what money buys. Their first week, each girl ended up with $2.25 spending money in their wallets. They had JoJo bows ($15 each), toys, and an Icee ($0.99 each) on their “to buy list.” Que discussion about saving your spending money and what a dollar actually buys.
Just like every other aspect of parenting, I don’t really believe there is one wrong way or one right way to handle household responsibilities. This is what we are trying for now. We are only a week into it, so we may find that things need to be tweaked. I’ve learned that much of my parenting involves tweaking because just as soon as I’ve figured something out, the situation changes just barely and my antics no longer work.
Until next time…
“Pay kids commissions, not allowances. Kids can do something of value and get things in return.” (the money guru, Dave Ramsey)