When I started writing this blog, it was mostly about breastfeeding. Well, this post is about as far removed from breastfeeding as you can get. Which served as a really good reminder to me of just how big my kids are getting. Sigh.
Little Man has been bitten by the ‘buying bug’. The other day we went to the store and he used his piggy bank money (actually, a random assortment of change that has made its way into a piggy bank over the years) to buy a chocolate bar. And now he wants to do it again.
So now we’re in the position of having to introduce money into his regular life. And with that has to come some notion of additional responsibility. We’ve talked a bit about how to do it, and obviously it will change as he gets older, but here are my thoughts so far.
1) The base layer
Some people feel the giving of a monetary reward for everyday activities sets kids up to refuse to do anything they’re not directly compensated for later in life. I can totally see that. On the other hand, I know that I’m not the type of person to enforce a wishy-washy sort of ‘there are generally things to do and there is generally money to be had’ existence. It would end up with the kids doing nothing – or at least protesting everything they did do – and still getting allowance. So we’ve decided there needs to be a base layer of ‘responsibilities’ to accompany the allowance. It will be an all-or-nothing deal though, not a chore-by-chore accounting.
2) Room to grow
I read an article in a parenting magazine years ago – before I had any reason to be reading parenting magazines – that gave a bunch of different strategies that parents employed and one of them I loved so much that I remember it to this day. The basic allowance was modest and required the kids do the things that make the house function. But in addition to that, they let the kids earn extra money by doing jobs that were larger or occurred more sporadically. It’s something that I think I can incorporate pretty early on by specifying an extra job that could be done. Then, as the kids get bigger we can move towards them spotting and proposing their own jobs.
I know it’s pretty much that direct compensation thing I just talked about, but I like that it gives choice, it also encourages the kids to see all of the things that happen in the house, not just what they’re responsible for, and it allows them to develop entrepreneurial skills by identifying those areas of unmet need. And let’s face it, as adults, we do work for compensation, so it would be absurd to leave that lesson out entirely.
3) Spend, Save, Share
Have you heard of the Moon Jar? Because if you haven’t, you must go look it up now. Money management was something I came to quite late in life, after I got out in the world and racked up a bunch of debt. I don’t want that for my kids. There will be an expectation that some money is saved and some is shared with those who have less.
So there’s the general plan, but there are still a lot of questions I haven’t answered:
- What is a reasonable amount of responsibility (in terms of chores) for a 3.5 year old?
- How much money is reasonable for a 3.5 year old? Especially considering he’s going to buy candy with it…
- What interval for getting allowance is best? Once a week might be too long to hold his attention, but daily seems a bit much.
- Is it OK to make ‘give Mommy a backrub’ a chore???
Anyone with older kiddos care to share some wisdom?