- The older kids get a regular allowance--Ryan is still at $3 a week, Morgan has recently started collecting $1 a week.
- They are free to keep or spend that money (and money given to them as gifts for birthdays, etc.) as they will, no restrictions (apart from things that are inappropriate for them to have, such as scary R-rated movies, and firearms. Yes. Firearms.).
- They must keep track of their money (they each have wallets) and remember to bring it places--no loans (we've learned this the hard way--they are terrible risks, and often default. Sheesh. Kids these days.).
- We share this money with them so they can learn money management skills, and in exchange for this money, we no longer purchase certain things for them, such as souvenirs, little toys at Target, etc. With this allowance, they explicitly take on responsibility for certain types of purchases.
- They can earn extra money by doing odd jobs around the house at contracted rates.
I think this strategy has worked very well. Obviously, Ryan has the most experience with it, but Morgan is beginning to learn some ideas, too. Brendan is still not 100% on board though, but he has agreed to the plan and is supportive of it with the kids.
Here are a few stories about the kids and money from our recent past.
One (or both) of them have forgotten to bring their wallets to fun places like the zoo, and have missed out on buying exciting
Both have improved in keeping track of their money. In the last month or so, Morgan has finally grasped the value of a dollar (such as it currently is, sigh), and now puts her money right in her wallet and knows where her wallet is at all times. This is a significant event!
Brendan, who is still not quite convinced
First of all, I've noticed that what's important to her lately is the experience of transacting business. Ryan went through a similar thing at about her age. She loves picking something out, handing over her money, receiving her item and often some change back. It's a very grownup thing to do! She is also learning that when she hands over her money, then it's gone, and she can't use that same money to buy something else. She was upset a few weeks after this incident that she didn't have enough money in her wallet. We talked about the things she'd purchased, and I pointed out that if she hadn't purchased them, the money would still be in her wallet. So each time she wanted to buy something, she needed to decide which was more important--having the Thing, or having the money in her wallet. These are good money management lessons she has learned, more important than the cheap little toy she bought.
Now Ryan has been saving and saving and saving his money for months. About a month ago, he'd saved up about $111 (or thereabouts). He said he was saving for a LEGO project (damn those things are expensive, and I'm glad LEGO is his responsibility!). Then once at the grocery store, he bought a pack of little cars, the Hot Wheels kind. A little unusual, since cars as such have never been his thing. Then the next time we went, more cars. Then, still more. Each time, he remembered to bring his wallet stuffed full of money, thoughtfully picked out a package of cars, patiently stood behind me in the grocery line, counted out his money, and purchased the cars.
Then the other day, he asked me to help him count out his money, so we sat down with his wallet. The sum? $79. Oh holy cow, he nearly had a panic attack! $79!!!! That wasn't enough money! He'd been saving and saving! He didn't want to live in the poorhouse! (He really said that.) He needed to get back up over $100 pronto. It would take him FOREVER to get over $100 at the rate of $3 a week, so he asked if he could do some extra work around here. So I said yes.
Now I haven't exactly figured out all of my principles when it comes to paying for extra work around the house. On one hand, I absolutely will not pay someone to handle their responsibilities. I will not pay people to pick up after themselves or do their laundry or help clean up toys out of the yard when Brendan needs to mow. This is the main reason I didn't want allowance tied to chores and responsibilities, with elaborate pay schedules for how much per job, and how much to dock when jobs aren't performed. (We had this for a little while growing up, and it was an administrative nightmare for my mom.) There are some jobs that need doing, even without the paying.
On the other hand, I recognize that it's important for kids to learn that money is (often) tied to productive work, and I know that they really can't go out and get a job at this point. And there are definitely things I'm willing to pay peopleguys to do. So for now, I decided that I am generally willing to pay Ryan and Morgan for extra jobs if I might be willing to pay a real-live peopleguy to do it. I don't do yardwork, for example, partly because I hate it, and partly because I'm still pretty allergic to grasses and trees (my allergy shots were a fantastic--but not complete--success). I'm willing to pay peopleguys to do yardwork (though our budget hasn't allowed it, alas), so I'm willing to pay the kids to do yardwork.
Similarly, I'm willing to pay them to do
So yesterday, Ryan and I sat down and negotiated a contract. :o) I came up with ideas for jobs that I'd be willing to pay for, and he told me whether or not he'd be interested in doing those jobs. Then we negotiated prices for each job. And here it is!
In case it's hard to read, here are the jobs and their values:
- Wash the walls: downstairs bathroom, staircase, upstairs hallway: $4
- Weeding front flower beds (on the right): $1
- Trim front bushes: $1
- Putting books on bookcases: $1
- Wash garage doors (originally planned for today): $2
- Mulch flower beds and tree: $4
- Repaint mailbox: $1
- Help Daddy clean garage: $6
He was thrilled to learn the value of the contract was $20 (though I'll pay out as each separate job gets completed). I
Oh, and that squiggle on the bottom is his signature. I'd suggested we sign the contract, since that's what grownups did when they made contracts. Evidently he'd been working on a fancy signature and I didn't know it! I asked him if he wanted me to sign "Mom" or "Jenn" and he told me to sign it "Jenn" since that's more grown up. :o)
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!