In a homeschooling house full of 7 kids & 3 guniea pigs....there is never a dull moment! A lot of people show genuine concern for us and want to know how we are doing, as the road we've left behind was not a pleasant one. So, here I am, to tell some of our stories...share some of our days...and open up a part of our world to you! Come join us on our journey so you won't miss the moments that take our breath away!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teaching my children about responsibilities, working together and finances.

Paying for chores...seriously?  I can't believe how many parents do this! 

I feel that it is important for my children to learn financial responsibility.  However, I don't feel that they should be paid to do their part in the household.  I am a single parent, living on such a limited income that I really can't afford to give them an allowance.  So, where is the happy medium? 

My children have never received an allowance and quite frankly, they've never really had a need for an allowance.  After all, every need and want has always been catered to.  Beginninng early on, a trip to the grocery store results in treats of candy, snacks, or small toys.  Lord forbid the ice cream truck drive by without my kids lining up for a treat.  We often visited local museums, aquariums or the zoo and what is a trip to any of those places without visiting the gift shop.  Then there are the countless trips to an arcade, indoor amusement park, go-cart track, indoor bounce houses, etc. etc.  Let's not forget about shows such as Disney on Ice and Dora.  Then of course, amusement parks, water parks.......not to mention a trip to the toy store after a difficult medical procedure, test, or illness.  Ahhhh....and ALL of the holidays, Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas, "just because your my kid day" (I'm sure there is one, lol), just to name a few.  You see where I'm going with this! Sometimes they receive a few dollars here and there for different reasons, from their grandma.  Maybe it's their birthday, or for a job well done in school, a get well soon wish or even "just because".

There was a time when I would be accused of "taking" their money.  As young children, they seem to not get the concept of being out somewhere and seeing something they want and chosing to pay me back for something they want to buy with the money they have at home.  Sometimes, they would lose their money and this too, was of course, my fault.  To remedy this problem, years ago...I purchased my older three kids a checkbook from Learning Resources.  They each had a ziplock bag with their name on it.  This was their "bank account".  All of their money went into their bank account.  Each time they received money, no matter how big or small the amount...they would have to fill out a deposit slip and deposit it into their bank account and log the balance in their check register.  When we were out somewhere and they saw something they wanted to use their money for, they would have to write a check.  I would purchase the item and they would keep the reciept and log it in their check register.  I would then take the amount out of their bank account.  This taught them the concept of having to pay for something and I was no longer accused of stealing their money.  We used this system for quite some time, but I think Cardinal was the only one old enough to gain anything from it.  She has in turn become very responsible with her money and she is very careful with what she spends money on.  She thinks twice before wasting every penny she gets, unlike Hawk or Eagle who rush to the Dollar Store to spend every penny just as soon as they get it and it's usually spent on candy.  After all, what do they care...they get everything else they want anyways, so why save their money for anything.  Cardinal rarely buys herself anything, but occasionally she does splurge and buy herself something.  She takes so much pride in saving her money and beginning about 3 years ago, she began purchasing all of her siblings a gift for Christmas.  This past Christmas, she not only bought nice gifts for her siblings, but she also bought for her grandparents and all of her cousins.  She got so much more joy out of giving than she ever could buying herself anything.

For about the past year, my children have been begging for an allowance.  Lately, I've pondered and looked into the different online programs that are out there and I've read all of the different ways that other parents handle chores and giving allowances, etc.  So many parents seem to pay their children for doing chores and contributing to their household...I personally, just can not justify that!  I want my children to respect our family unit and that we need to work together as a family to make our house a nice, comfortable place to live.  I want them to stop expecting someone to do everything for them.  I want them to learn to be independent and be willing to help others without expecting something in return. I don't want to instill the "instant gratification" factor in them!

I do want them to learn that in life, we do have responsiblities, both at home and in our job.  I want them to work for things that they want and I want them to experience a reward when their hard work pays off.

I have started off the new year with lots of re-organinzing in our house.  I started with organinzing the house (not yet complete, but sooooo close to being done).  Then I came up with a new chore system...and that has led to the question of "allowance".  When I did our chore system, there were certain chores that I was willing to "pay" for.  Things such as:
  • cleaning the yard
  •  mowing the grass/ pulling weeds or shoveling snow
  • cleaning/washing the van
  • giving the dogs a bath 
  • cleaning the animal cages
There will be no "set" amount for these things, as they will be negotiable each time.  Some times, I may be able to afford to pay more than others.  The household chores do not go without reward...we will once again be able to enjoy so much more quality time game nights, movie nights, going to the park, sled riding, bike riding, visiting the museum...all the things we enjoy doing together as a family.  They will also earn "time" for things such as video games, computer free time, etc. (after all...they do need "some" incentive to do chores).

So, what about that "allowance"?  Well.......they need to earn money somehow, I know, I know! So, I think to myself...I'm "training" them to become the most responsible adults I can help them to become...right:?  So, I have to ask are they going to make money when they become these wonderful, well adjusted adults that I want them to become?  Cardinal has high aspirations to be a vet, Hawk ????, Eagle wants to be an engineer and Macaw wants to be a mommy, but in due time, she will learn that my job doesn't pay much and hopefully she will take that dream a bit further and be able to provide for her family much better than I have proven to be able to!  Nonetheless...they will all be working! Ahhhh....a "JOB", they will all have a job!  Ha!  Isn't that something...they currently do have a "job".  This is definately a topic for another blog!  But, for now...I will say that yes, my children will earn their "allowance" by doing their job AKA their schoolwork.  This is in definately in the planning stages...but, initially, we are thinking of about $5 per week (or maybe $10 month??? just depends how much I can squeeze into my already thin budget).  There will be a bonus offered for year end completed coursework for which subjects they advance to the next grade (thinking $5 per subject).  How will I fit this "allowance" into my budget?  I will go above and beyone to provide and make sure my children have everything they "need", but I will no longer cater to every "want".  All of the "extra" things that they "want" they will have to learn to responsibily handle their money, so that they can have the reward of things they want.  Batteries to play a video game, treats from the $1 store, $ to play games at a carnival or a special treat from the ice cream truck...these are all some examples of things they will have to provide for themselves.  

For pay for our "paid chores", we will start with "The Jar" which has yet to earn an official name, lol.  Where will the money in the jar come from?  Basically, I will start each month by putting $5 in the jar (this allows for $1 per paid chore per month).  Also, any money that is found around the house or when doing laundry, cleaning the car, etc.  it will go in the jar.  Money that we get from taking items for recycling will go in the jar and lastly, (blushing in shame) I will pay $.05 for every "bad" word that I say :)

So, there you have it....this is how my children will be learning all about being responsible, working with others, completing their "job", managing their money and reaping the rewards from learning these lifelong skills!



  1. I love the idea of the checkbook, I think I might get one for my 8 year old! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have many of the same issues as you regarding allowances. If we go on a big trip I will allot the children X amount of money that is their to spend and when it is gone there is no more. It worked really well in Orlando as they really considered what they wanted to buy to take home as a souvenir.

  3. Wow that is a very good idea. I am saving this for the future with our kids. I am revamping our system to adjust to our kids needs all the time. I really like this!

  4. Our allowance system is loosely based on Money Doesn't' Grow on Trees by Neale S. Godfrey. ( I say loosely because I read that book years ago and don't remember everything she wrote. It's a 4 jar system, allowance is divided into 4 jars: charity (that the child chooses), short term savings (saving for a toy that will take a couple of weeks or months allowance), long term savings (college), and cash to spend. Not only does allowance get split like this but so does any money our son receives as a gift, I consider it teaching him about FICA, so that missing chunk from the first real pay check won't be such a surprise.

    I don't tie allowance to chores. I think of the kids allowance the same as my spending money-- my money for a latte isn't tied to whether I've folded and put away the laundry (my hated chore). Which means that if our budget is extremely tight I skip lattes and new ebooks and my son skips his allowance, that's part of being a family.

    I will provide opportunities to earn extra money by doing some chores but that isn't going to be the same as the allowance. Some chores you just do for free because it helps the family and household run and then I plan on some chores having bonuses. This Chore Jar ( sounds interesting and I might implement something like it in the future-- my little guy just turned 2 so this is still pretty much all planning.