About two years ago, my husband and I took the Financial Peace University class at our church. It was a really great class to get us back on track with our money, and we actually did pretty good with some of the principles for about a year. It was nice to not have to scramble for money for our yearly trip to Michigan or Christmas since we had planned ahead. Sadly, we have not kept it up, but we are hoping to start again and get back on track.
A friend of mine told me how she gave her five and four-year-old allowance for doing daily chores around the house. They were expected to clean out the silverware from the dishwasher every day, empty the trashcans from the bathrooms, and I think something else, but I can’t remember. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we need to start teaching our kids healthy money principles right now. My husband was pretty good with money when we got married, and I was not. Unfortunately my habits have trickled to my husband and we are not good about saving or budgeting. We want our kids to understand how to save and tithe at an early age to get used to it.
We both agreed that just giving them money was not okay, they needed to earn it. Both of their rooms are usually an explosion of toys, and they often didn’t play in them because it was so hard to navigate around. I have stubbed my toe or stepped on toys more than once while putting a sleeping child to bed, and I knew that the first thing they needed to do was keep their rooms clean. Plus, with all the money parents spend on cool bedding for their kids, they might as well make their beds every day too. I felt though, that even though this was enough for our 2 year old, it wasn’t quite enough for our 4 year old. I decided the idea of him emptying the trash from the bathroom was a good idea (I HATE doing that job and never do it!) and he should also feed and water the dog every day, which would end the daily conversation of “Did you feed the dog today? Nope. You? Nope. Well, I guess we better feed her.” I whipped up charts for both kids, superhero for the boy and Dora for the girl. We decided on a rate of 50 cents per year of age, so my girl gets $1 each week and my boy gets $2. We snagged the idea from my friend of using dimes to pay them instead of dollars. It feels like more money to them, and it makes it so easy to tithe and save! They each have a bank now, and extra jars that say “tithe” and “savings” on them, and we count out their money with them and every time they get to 10 they put 1 dime in the tithe jar and 1 in the savings jar.
I was a little worried about how my boy would react to having to put 20% of his money in places he couldn’t spend, but he reacted surprisingly well. (The 2 year old girl could care less, she just has money now!) I remember in psychology class learning about good habits and how they take 28 days straight to build. Well, we are on day 14 of clean rooms (which, by the way, they clean right before bed. I don’t care what they get out and make a mess of during the day, as long as they clean it up before bed. Talk about bringing peace into my house!), made beds, and a fed dog. The trash in the bathrooms has been emptied 2 weeks in a row, and the kids are still loving this process. I haven’t stubbed my toes putting kids to bed in a long time, and it is so nice to have a least 2 rooms clean in the house all the time. Plus, I love having them be excited about giving money to the church already and saving money for “when they are grownups.” I hope this trend can continue, and maybe my husband and I will take some lessons from them and start saving again too.