I actually speak on this topic and people always find it informative so I thought I’d share it here. Financial education is near and dear to my heart. When I taught high school, I taught business and computer courses. My business courses were Intro to Personal Finance, and Business Management. I loved them both; but it became really clear that the majority of my students knew very little about financial responsibility even though many of them had jobs. I didn’t want that for my kids.
The thing I hated most when I taught was the “pay for play” mentality. At one point, one of my students came up to me and asked “What do I get for doing this assignment?” To this day, I can’t believe I was able to form a response as quickly as I did. It was “Ummm… you mean other than the sheer satisfaction of knowledge? How about a GRADE…?”
WHAT DO YOU GET???
I wish I could remember who that student was because he (I remember it was a boy) forever changed some of my priorities in life. For one, I was not about to encourage my kids to think that they only did things to get something out of it. Many financial gurus tout this as being the best financial training for kids because that’s how the financial world works. Well, to some extent it does.
But you are teaching KIDS. They cannot differentiate that the rules for handling money are not the same as the rules everywhere else. And furthermore, I think philanthropy and charity should be done from the heart–not because you have X-amount of dollars in the “Share” or “Angel” fund that needs to get spent and you try to figure out how to do it charitably. Geesh.
My kids need to do their chores because they’re part of a family. Period. The idea that chores (or even worse, grades) are their “kid jobs” for which their allowance is their “paycheck” … I don’t know how to explain how I feel about that. It’s not that I believe that this automatic “what’s in it for me” programming will definitely lead to having a kid that doesn’t care about anything else. Definitely a concern, but it’s not my only problem with it. I’m more concerned that it’s eating up a very good opportunity to instill a sense of responsible community in our kids and those opportunities don’t really exist in abundance. So there’s that. (see my blog post on How I get my kids to do their chores)
When my oldest was about to turn 5, I felt this looming deadline of his birthday to figure it all out. Thankfully, “Raising Financially Fit Kids” crossed my path. There, they laid out the idea that chores were done as part of contributing to the household, and allowance was given for the purpose of learning how to handle money.
EFFING. BRILLIANT, PEOPLE!
I was downright giddy. I had the answer! Five and a half years later, that’s pretty much how we roll here. There are people that criticize this method–stating that kids need to understand the concept of working to earn money. Mine do! Because if they don’t like the allowance I’m giving them, they have a list of stuff they can do to earn MORE money. If they don’t want to get off their duff and earn more money, they have to learn to live within their means. The harder they work, the more money they make. All of those chores on the “extra earning” list are things they COULD do daily but are never required of them. Things like dusting baseboards or cleaning windows or watering the plants or even a chore that my husband or I normally do. Problem solved.
So far, it’s working for us. I have to bite my lip when BigGuy wants to go to Target under the guise of getting a specific thing and then when the store doesn’t have that–he’s seeking out “something to buy” just because he knows he has money. It makes me bat-sh*t crazy, but hey–it’s his money.
Oh, and we don’t do credit. Happy to bring you back, but your money’s not here, dude. Sorry.
Because I love you more than life, but you need to move the hell out someday.