One topic that is covered often in The ABC’s of Financial Freedom has to do with children and finances. Cameron talks frequently about what his family did to get out of debt, how his children contributed to the goal, and what everyone in the family gave up to make this goal a reality.
This lesson was important for us. We want to raise kids who are money-wise, God-honoring children. We want them to understand our family’s finances and appreciate money so they don’t leave our house as college-bound kids with skewed views on money (and debt!) And I believe that process should start sooner rather than later.
As I was reading the book, it made me thankful for parents that felt this lesson was important to instill in their children also. I grew up doing the things that we’re now doing with Ellie and, while I might not have liked it at the time, I appreciate those lessons now.
In brainstorming ways to help Ellie “earn” money and then learn to tithe and save that money, I came across this post from Simple Mom about kids and chores. She had a free chore chart I could download that was very simple and set up well for small children. We printed it and have been using it every week since. What I like about it is you can customize what chores you want your child to do (most of them are things Ellie already does, but now we make a bigger deal out of them and reward her for doing what we ask).
The chart starts on a Monday and Ellie gets a sticker every time she does something on the chart (clean up her breakfast dishes, feed the dog, help set the table for dinner, clean up toys before bedtime, brush her teeth without a fit at night [side note: this is a huge problem for my daughter–she stalls at bedtime almost nightly and we wrestle to brush her teeth, it’s exhausting]. She gets to pick out the sticker (which takes for-e-ver) and then put it on the chart.
We do this all week and then on Sunday evenings, we get out our jar of nickels (we decided on a nickel per sticker and then went to the bank and got a few rolls). She gets to put a nickel on each sticker, we work on counting, and then she puts them in groups of ten. She doesn’t know it, but we do a little percent math with her ten nickels: one nickel goes in the God jar (her tithe), two nickels go in the Savings jar, and the rest goes in the Ellie jar. We talk about why we give God some of the money He helped us earn and that Mommy and Daddy do the same thing. We talk about saving up money for big stuff (like college, but we don’t use those words obviously), and then how she still has lots of money leftover to spend on whatever she wants.
Each Sunday morning, she empties out her God jar and takes it to church for her offering. She hasn’t spent too much of her money, but Chris did let her go to the store once and pick out some candy (Starbursts, FYI) and he said it was cute and maddening all at the same time as she paid with her handful of nickels. (Another side note: she then inhaled half the Starbursts in the car while he wasn’t looking. Good Daddy.)
Even though our daughter is only three, starting this routine now will (hopefully) allow her to make better money decisions as she gets older. We’ll probably start this chart with Harper soon also. Not because a one year old needs chores, but because she sees her big sister do it and wants to be included. So why not?
This jar system that we use is exactly what my parents with my sister and me when we were little. I had to tithe and save a portion of everything I made–it really sucked. All I could think about was what I could be doing with that extra money. As an adult, I know that logic is wrong and I hope as we go through this with our own kids, we’ll be better at creating worshipful hearts about money. We’ll see how that goes.
If we want our kids to follow our lead, we have to be intentional about the money conversations we’re having with them and show them what we’re doing with our money. Because we’re serious about leading by example. There’s just no other way.
This chore chart and allowance thing is a work-in-progress. What do you think? Do your kids earn money doing chores? Do they get an allowance? I’ve read lots of thoughts for and against allowance/chores so I’m interested to hear what you think.