Sunday, July 3, 2011

The value of money earned

Joel and I have talked in the past about whether or not we plan on giving our kids an allowance. I like the idea of kids learning how to deal with money, or having some kind of income. I would want to give them the benefit of working, saving, putting thought and effort into acquiring that which they desire and therefore find the value in their work as well as their possessions. But I don't like the idea of just giving them money for no particular reason except that it's That Day of the Week. Then there is the question of whether or not their chores should have anything to do with their allowance - whether or not to pay them to clean their room and so forth. I wonder then how will they would learn responsibly - that there are duties we have in life that must be done, whether there is reward or not, whether we feel like it or not. As an adult, I don't get rewarded or paid to make my bed, cook my dinner, wash my bathroom. But I do these anyway, because it's the responsible thing.

I've also been thinking about something I read in a pretty good book once. The author was talking about the difference between a child who gets whatever he wants given to him freely and a child who is told 'no' occasionally or gets a more reasonable number of gifts. At Christmas time, for example, the child who gets whatever he wants, a hundred presents wrapped round the tree, is less likely to really see the value in any of those gifts, tossing them aside at once for the next. But the child who only gets a few gifts, is more likely to take care of each of them, and appreciate both the gift and the giver more. I suspect that it's true of a child who puts his own time and effort into aquiring something as well - he values it more.

With all these things in mind, Joel and I have come to a compromise with which I am quite satisfied. My son is still only 2 years old, so all this talk about allowances and money is mostly just a plan for the future. But the gist of it is this: their chores will be an unpaid lesson in responsibility (making bed, putting away toys, etc). but they can earn money by doing any extra chores that are normally done by mom and dad (yard work, vaccuming, etc) Now they know there are some things that they will have to just do for the sake of getting it done, but that they can earn money by working for someone else.

All of this is just leading up to a sweet moment that happened this afternoon. I pulled out my little swiffy mop, to wipe up the kitchen floor of some sticky spots after lunch and saw my son playing quietly in the living room. And just on a whim, I decided to give him his first lesson in wages... even if he's a little young to grasp it completely just yet. "Hey, kiddo - do you want to help mama mop the kitchen?" His eyes lit up for something new to do, "Yeah!" and he ran over to help. I showed him how to wipe it back and forth and then let him at it. He proceeded to mop back and forth around the kitchen, with much more detail and interest than I expected. He even got in all the corners and under the table! I was planning to pay him 25 cents for about 2 minutes of work. But he did such a good job, I ended up giving him 50 cents for a job very well done, and I made sure he knew that.

He took his 50 cents and proceeded to play "spinnies" with them on the kitchen table. Hahaha. So much for learning the value of money at this age... Maybe I'll wait til he's older before I offer again. I think it also might click better in his mind if we went through the process of purchasing something with his money together and talking about it then too. But this was a good start. :)

Do you give your kids an allowance? Did you get one as a kid?


  1. Well, I like your article much better than the one I linked for you! How great to be on top of this in a thinking and caring way. Your pictures are also so sweet to see. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. we give our son an allowance, every Saturday he gets $2.50. We started him at 6. He puts 10% in for tithing, then 1.25 goes in savings, and 1.00 goes in spending. He already has 34$ in savings. Just think how much he will have when he turns 18! It's a great way to set aside money for his future, and teach him the value of money at the same time!

    Born To Be Styled


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