Why We Pay Our Kids to Work

I’m sitting on the couch watching Anna do what Anna loves to do: organize. Since Anna was a toddler she has shown a love of organization. When she was 12 or so she quite confidently told me she already had plans to be more organized then me when she grows up and move out.

Ahem.

But she’s good at it. Really good.

Her bedroom is generally neat to a tee. Her school materials are kept neatly 100% of the time. Her closet is no different.

She’s accepted the paid task this week of organizing my church materials into one giant three ring binder this week. It is one of those tasks that I could have done myself, but it’s the very last thing on the priority list of my days and constantly gets put off until “some other day”. That “some other day” has been about two years long. It is truly something that needed to be done and I wanted it to be done, if for no other reason than it was messy, took up space and I wanted my Thirty-One bag back that all of my materials had been stuck in.

Part of our weekly budget is a line item for each family member to receive an allowance. For Jeremy and I our allowance is spent on gas for the cars and little things we buy during the week. The girls each receive $5.00 per week. They can do what they want with it…save it, spend it, give it. Kaitlyn, I learned recently, most often spends her money on buying friends snacks. I had no idea.

Along with this allowance are two expectations:

1. Their job right now is to be a student.

2. There are chores around the house that need to be done because they live here. Making their beds, cleaning their rooms, cleaning up outside, emptying the dishwasher, putting laundry away.

We want them to begin now to learn the value of a dollar and how to use it.

On top of a regular allowance, though we have occasional jobs where each girl can earn extra money. Right now, Kailtyn is working around the house to earn money to buy new bibles for some friends. Anna is working on organizing my church materials and when that is over will earn another $5.00 when she completes organizing my recipes.

We do this for several reasons:

  1. To teach responsibility: Being accountable to a “boss” and fulfilling an expectation of a job’s needs.
  2. To begin to learn what it is to communicate expectations between “boss” and “employee”.

3. To encourage personal and spiritual gifts: Perhaps the very thing they like to work at now is something God will use in the future.

4. To teach fiscal care and concern: learning now to keep track of their physical money, giving ten percent to the church, and being comfortable with banking are valuable life-long lessons.

5. To teach them how to plow through  a job even if when it gets hard and takes longer than it should: Daisy may or may not have lost her head over a fly and ran through Anna’s papers on more than one occasion and she had to almost start over. The amount paid didn’t change just because it took longer than she expected.

6. To teach time management: If a job needs to be done “today” or “by Friday” or “sometime this week” kids will learn to adjust their time to do the job.

7. To teach them problem solving: see number 4 above.

8. To teach them a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they have finished: That lesson can never be underrated.

We live on a simple budget, but believe it’s important to teach our kids now about being financially responsible and thus are willing to make their allowance and extra earning a priority. No age is too young to begin learning financial responsibility.

Please follow this link: Dave Ramsey has an awesome article and visual aid on showing how Teens Can Become Millionaires.    

Tips:

  1. Consider the age of the child: Personally, I would begin teaching a preschooler the importance of helping around the house as a normal expectation of the family, before I introduced paid jobs and allowances to them. The important thing to remember is the life lesson being taught: a sense of responsibility. Extra money should be a bonus, not an expectation.
  2. Keep the paid jobs reasonable considering each child’s ability.
  3. Give clear expectations as to what needs to be done and the time when it needs to be finished.
  4. Start a bank account early on for each child and begin to teach kids, at a young age how to put money into their accounts. Any amount in any form-coins, dollars, checks-is awesome. Encourage it and praise the effort. Remember: interest builds in a bank, not a piggy bank.

Why are finances important to teach our kids? What if God is calling one of our children to the mission field, or to become teacher in a poorer school district, or to found a company and give it’s proceeds away, or raise up a village in a third world country? Perhaps our kids have the spiritual gift of giving and will one day be able to start businesses that are run in Jesus’ name.  What if our kids are strapped with debt, not knowledgeable on how to budget and save and haven’t learned how to discipline themselves financially? These callings may be harder to fulfill than we imagine now while they are still growing and the future still seems like it’s in the distance.

Financial understanding, responsibility and financial freedom qre hugely important for their futures.

Financial freedom doesn’t necessarily mean wealth or riches, it means that money doesn’t define who they are. They will learn to use money, not let money use them.

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