The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
-Buechner

Thursday, May 6, 2010

You've Got To Earn It, Baby

I remember growing up, many of my friends were given a weekly allowance. Some had responsibilities - chores done regularly - and others were simply given money on a consistent basis for...I guess being a part of a family? I'm not sure about that one.

Until we were older we did not receive a weekly sum. I remember being frustrated and while knowing the reason why, I didn't completely understand. Perhaps this was due to my age or likely a simple, conscious ignorance...not really wanting to understand or figure it out. I just knew I wanted to get the same toonie (actually it was a bill back then, I believe) or fiver that my other friends received.

I get it now.

Our kids, for now, will earn their money. We're trying to teach them life lessons. And, though you might think three and four is young to begin (financial) life lessons, I am quite sure it's not. Not receiving money weekly - regardless of what I did or did not do around the house - I am quite certain, solidified a stronger work ethic that I would not have otherwise learned. It also taught me that money is not easy to come by. It is to be worked for. Honestly, truly earned.

It's interesting the details of our childhood we remember so vividly and those we have likely forgotten. I remember that to empty the dishwasher my sister would do the top, I would do the bottom (or vice versa) and we would each earn a quarter. Taking the garbage bin down on garbage day would earn us a dime (it was a short driveway). Making our beds (which was expected regardless but for some reason still got us green...or silver in this case) would also earn us a dime. Or maybe it was stripping our beds on laundry days that earned the dime. Either way, I have all these little treasured memories stored up in the bank of my mind and I think they are priceless - no pun intended. (Okay, maybe a little.)

I believe I've maintained values and we agree as parents that for now, this will work for us. Money is not to be expected for tasks completed because we are a family and we all help out to make our family and household symbiotic. However, hard work will reap some financial reward.

That said, our boys love helping. While vacuuming the other day Noah asked if he could, too. Because I am relatively normal I don't have two vacuum cleaners, and it was one of those days I just needed to get it done. All of it. All 2300' sq. (Ick)

So I replied that no, not today but perhaps he could do something else.

Like what
? was the reply.

You could dust with a cloth
? I suggested.

Good suggestion. In no time at all both boys were dusting away, and moving their (dry!) cloths back and forth on whatever flat surface they could find.

And I have to say, the metal rungs going all the way the flight of stairs is cleaner that it has been in weeks (months?). They moved their beds and dusted behind them, they worked until I was done working. And they did it because they love helping. They did it because they know we have a big house and they (in a three and four year old sort of way) want to help keep it clean. And, they did it because I believe they like this sense of ownership.

So, though they weren't expecting it that chore earned them a dime each. And, while you may think that's a small sum, to a three and four year old who is learning the value of a dollar, it is precious.

(Other chores include helping with laundry which is hands down the most fun job for them...who doesn't want to be asked to throw clothes over the edge of the landing?! Oh - this fun one does not earn anything...after all...if we don't dust the world keeps turning but "back up" underwear only last so long. Laundry's a bit more of a necessity don't you think?)

Following through on our teaching of the value of money and how hard we need to work to earn it and how easy it can be to spend it, they were determined the other day to purchase something. We talked them through it. They each had in their minds what it was they wanted and we knew it would cost about $7 each. So, we counted it out and they soon realized there would be little left in their wallets. It was their decision though and they were determined.

After a walk up and down the toy aisle (time about fifteen) looking for "King" and "Chick Hicks", to no avail we sought out different toys. But nothing seemed to fit the bill. And how interesting it was to watch the wheels churn as the older decided there really was nothing worth his $7 that he had to have. The younger, mimicking his aunt at a young age, simply wanted to spend. (The resemblance is uncanny...you can begin praying for us now...the teens should be interesting.) He finally realized that another toy, well, it would just be another toy.

And they were offered the option of not spending their money but rather earning interest if they were to take it home. (Incentive not to waste or be frivolous.)

We were on our way out the door when we walked past the bike aisle. Oh the bikes. The helmets. The baskets. The reflectors. The streamers. The horns. The bells.

Oh. The. Bells.

And what do you know, they cost $6.65 (including tax).

4 comments:

Joy and Geoff said...

Interesting post - thanks! Always like to think about what I might do as a parent at some point. We did not have any regular chores as kids, not did we receive a regular allowance. I always thought I might tie chorse to money, and still might. I have also heard other perspectives, like the one favoured by Dr. Phil (yes, I'm a bit of a fan...usually), who prefers chores to be separate from money so that kids are simply expected to contribute around the house as part of being in a family, without expectiny payment/reward...and then the allowance (given regularly, not tied to work), is used to learn about money management - budgeting, saving, etc. according to a plan. Deep down, I feel like a parent could likely go either way, and teach important principles along the way. We shall see which philosophy I end up adopting. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

Yours Truly said...

So interesting. I think it's hugely important to teach the value of money at a young age...I hope you update us as they get older on how the allowance/chore thing evolves!

D Dae said...

Interesting post, I am more of the mind set that children should participate in the household duties without it being tied to a monetary reward. Instead they will get an allowance, and be expected to budget their money to get all the stuff they are CONSTANTLY asking me to buy for them, and we will work with them to create budgets, learn how to build a savings plan and learn money management. The reason I do not like tying chores to money is that I hope to teach my kids to be really selfless, and do work without the expectation of reward. I grew up this way, and from a very early age started volunteering and doing fundraising. In University I had more volunteer jobs than paying jobs, and it helped me have a very successful career. Money is important but I learned from a VERY young age, that work is about something far more important than money, and that the things you earn from work are not always tangible. Not sure if this makes sense. I know everyone has their own approach, I know Donald Trump does not agree with me! LOL

FTD said...

Timely post - this was in the TC on Saturday:
http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Little+helpers+make+successful+adults/3003291/story.html