Friday, June 1, 2012

Chore Charts and Allowances

Back in March, I finally completed the Magnetic Chore Charts for the "Pickles". I still had to tell them often to check the chart and after a couple months of using them we decided the boards were a bit crowded (we had magnets that told them the brushing their teeth).

At the same time, while Mr. LH and I worked towards financial freedom by tackling our debts, I wanted to teach the "Pickles" money lessons. In order to do that, they needed an allowance...something we frankly couldn't afford to do before. However, I knew I couldn't let them grow up and move out of the house financially ignorant like Elder Boy was last year, so modest allowances for both children became part of our monthly budget.

I recently finished reading Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey. In it, he explains how to approach teaching children about money. We took some of those teachings and applied them in our money lesson for the "Pickles".

To begin, I went back to the chore chart. I started removing the everyday really-not-a-chore type things and decided on 10 chores per child. Each chore would be worth 50 cents each - a total of $5 per child per week. Some of their chores were very simple, like feeding Turtly or our pair of African Dwarf Frogs. Others were their rooms or washing the dishes. They would have to satisfactorily complete their chore and have it checked by a parent before they were able to move their magnet over to the "Done" side of their board.

At the beginning of the week, Mr. LH and I announced the new "system". Then over dinner we encouraged both children to dream (and dream big) of what they would do with a lot of money if they had it. The Boy wanted to save up for an N64 system (short-term goal) and a Jeep Wrangler (long-term goal). The Girl could think of nothing but another Monster High doll. Well...she's eight years old. Bigger dreams will come soon.

I didn't need to do too much reminding throughout the week to "check the chore chart" and even the dreaded chores (washing dishes) were done without much grumbling. But is is only week one. We'll see how it progresses.

Payday for the week was Sunday night, at which point, we would count up all the chores completed and immediately pay the children their allowances. Once they got their allowance, they had to decide how much money would be put aside for their savings, how much would be kept for spending, and how much would be put aside strictly for giving (to charities, to schools, to church, etc). We requested that something go into each category every week, though they got to decide how much.

To keep their money separated, I labeled some mason jars for "Saving" and "Giving". They already had banks they could use for their spending money. The idea behind the glass jars is a clear container so they can see their money adding up (use of the "jar system" or "envelope system" was suggested in Dave Ramsey's book).

In the jars, I placed a piece of note paper that can be used as a "register". They can write down the date money was added to (or removed from) the jar and how much. I'm sure they will revel in dumping the jar out on the floor and counting their money, but the register will give a quick glance at how much should be in the jar and hopefully will gradually help them to adapt to keeping a checkbook type register (still a good skill to have no matter how obsolete checkbooks have become).

The "Pickles" were put "in control" of their money. Not only did they decide how much to set aside for each category, but they could also decide what they were saving up for, what they would spend money on and who they would give money to. Of course, all of this was within reason. I wasn't going to have them blow months of savings on candy, inappropriate clothing or violent/mature video games.

Out of his $4.50 allowance (he didn't finish one chore satisfactorily and opted not to complete it before the end of the week), The Boy decided to set aside $1 for giving, $2 for saving and $1.50 for spending. He then took his spending money on a field trip with him - considerably less than I would have normally given him to spend, but he was quite happy to have his own money to take. He also announced students had the option of buying their lunch on the field trip or bringing a lunch from home. He opted to avoid the unnecessary expense and pack his lunch (though I don't think $1.50 would have bought much lunch).

This month, when I budgeted out the $40 for their allowances (assuming they earn the maximum amount throughout the month), I have to admit I thought of the other things I could put that $40 towards - credit card bills, student loans, etc. But then I thought again of the financial crisis our oldest son seems to always be in from lack of money management skills. It seems to me, $40 a month is a small price to pay knowing your children are learning valuable life skills.

Side Note:  Although there are 4 years separating the "Pickles", they are both doing the same type and the same number of household chores so I kept the amount of money the same. Once we get used to the system and work out some kinks, other chores will be added. The Boy seems to be able to handle his chore load just fine so I might add another 2 chores to his list (added responsibility = a potential dollar-a-week raise). The Girl tends to fall behind with her chores so I won't add more to her list until she can consistently do the chores she already has.

Focus on the Family has a great list of age appropriate chores for children ages 2 through 18.

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