Sunday, February 21, 2010


Zane was supposed to get a few shots in the arm this week.

As Kindergarten registration begins in March (shudder), I decided to get his immunizations up to date and out of the way. Surprise, surprise, when I showed up for the appointment only to find that our former pediatrician's office had only sent Zane's medical records from his last visit back in January of 09. With no exhaustive immunization record on hand, they couldn't very well administer any shots.

Appointment rescheduled.

Unfortunately, I had already built up the trip to Castle Toys that would be occurring directly after the going under the needle.

Couldn't back out now.

Having just taken my second class at Financial Peace University the night before, I had no intention of simply buying Zane a toy in order to appease the pain he would be feeling in his arm after receiving his shots. Instead, I had him remove money from the Spend section of his bank - a bank which has three compartments: Give, Save, and Spend. If he wanted a toy, he would have to purchase it.

I was simply serving as his means of transportation.

He walked proudly into the store with his $10 and marched directly over to the Playmobile section where a red dragon was waiting just for him. He pulled it off the shelf and handed it to me.

"This is what I want."

It was $20.

To explain to a 5 year old that he doesn't have enough money and that Mommy isn't going to kick in the remaining $10 is torture. We went round and round and up and down about it, but I remained firm. He even checked out some other non-Playmobile dragons, but didn't want any because they "didn't move". He knew what he wanted, and couldn't purchase it.

To say he was disappointed is an understatement.

He was down-right pissed.

In the end, however, he chose two smaller Playmobile pirates at $3.99 each. And while he is very satisfied with these two new additions to his collection of Playmobile, he has not ceased talking about that dragon. The dragon I told him he would have to save up his own money to purchase.

Let me repeat. The dragon I told him would have to save up his own money to purchase.

I'm not buying it.

We have been hot and cold on giving our kids chores around the house, and even more cold about giving them money to do them, and yet this summer I began treating their chores as jobs. Come to work - get paid. Don't come to work - don't get paid. This worked. For a time. But I made some small errors in implementing the plan which contributed to this project failing.

At class Thursday night, Dave Ramsey talked about a similar system by which he used a chart to list the chores to be completed by his children daily, each worth an equal monetary value. Every day his kids would either CHOOSE to complete the chores or to ignore them. At the end of the week, the number of chores completed would be added up and his children would be paid accordingly.

This is exactly what we were doing with our kids this summer - but without the chart. No visual aid - our first error. It worked for awhile, but since they couldn't see the list of chores, or check them off, they lost the sense of ownership, and I found myself continually having to remind them of what was expected.

Nothing like hearing Mom's nagging voice every day.

Tonight I called a Family Budget Meeting. I explained during the meeting that Daddy and I were working at using our money well, and working towards getting out of debt. I explained that getting out of debt meant to not owe anyone any money. I then shared with them that I had cut up several credit cards because I had paid them off.

And then, I unveiled their Commission Charts.

Why Commission? Because in the real world, one doesn't make any commission if they choose NOT to work. We are treating chores as a job. A real job. I'm a Mary Kay consultant. As a consultant I am able to receive 50% commission on every sale (barring discounts, giveaways, etc.). If I sell our full Timewise Skincare set for $90, I take $45. If I sell $300 in a week, I take $15o.


In our house, both kids have the same chores - chores that I have deemed necessary for insuring that our household functions smoothly on a daily basis:

1. Placing dirty clothes in the laundry basket every morning. (I do a small load daily, so if the clothes don't get put in the basket, they will not get washed. I don't run around picking up after Harper and Zane. If they're out of underwear because it's all in a pile on the bedroom floor, it's not my fault. Have fun going commando, kiddos!)

2. Straightening up bedrooms - and specifically, the floor. (We spent the day doing this in both Harper and Zane's room today. The rooms look AMAZING. Harper's especially. She loved having friends up there tonight when they came for dinner.)

3. Gathering personal belongings throughout the house and returning them to their "home". (That means shoes, toys, coats, Transformer's, and Playmobile pirates.)

4. Putting all folded clothes away. (I do a FULL load daily. Wash, dry, and fold. I do NOT put their clothes away. When the kids get home from school there is a nice folded stack either at their bedroom door, or, in Zane's case, waiting for him on his bed.)

Now, Dave Ramsey could afford to give his kids $5.00 a week for chores. I. Can. Not. My kids get a whopping $.05 per chore. Or, $.20 a day. $1.40 per week. $5.60 per month. While payday is Saturday, I keep clear glass jars in the kitchen and fill the jar every day with their take so that they can actually SEE the money that will be theirs at the end of the week. The amount they receive is directly related to the chores they complete. THEY CHOOSE.

They are already in the habit of putting aside 10% for tithe, 50% for savings (they are getting passbook accounts this week), and 40% for spending. (Yes, of course I help with the calculations.)

They do NOT receive extra for other things I may ask them to help with around the house. Some chores such as helping to clean up the toys in the basement, walking the dog, or putting dirty plates in the sink, need to happen quite simply because we are a family. A team. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team, right? No cash bonus here.

Harper and Zane's charts are are magnetic boards on their bedroom doors and include both pictures and a written list of what's expected daily. A pen is attached so they can check off what has been accomplished and add up their daily totals.

One extra piece to insure that chores are accomplished? No screen time until chores are done. We don't allow TV or Wii (for Harper) during the week. However, she does get time on the computer (and some TV if there's something good to watch - we're being soft during the Olympic Games). Zane does get some Wii and TV during the day. But neither kid gets any screen time unless chores are accomplished.

And that's how we roll.

And really? The pressure is on me to encourage, rather than nag, about completing their jobs. Think about it. Do you feel motivated by your nagging micro-managing boss???

If the project fails, it's my fault. I'm the Project Manager.

Personally, I am looking forward to having another Family Budget Meeting in a month at which time they will receive raises for doing so well.

This may not be the right course of action for your household, but think about it. All companies run a bit differently, do they not? You'll figure it out. But first, make an actual intentional goal about teaching your children the value of work, saving, spending wisely, and giving. And then, make a plan.


As a family.


Amy said...

Great idea! I love your emphasis on the visuals.
I can't wait until Tommy can have a little chart and do some of his chores...

Debbie said...

Very, very similar to what we do with Matthew and will do with Nathan. Every year on their birthdays they get a new job. One year for Matthew it was to eat WHATEVER we put in front of him WITHOUT complaining. Still working on that one...
If Matthew wants to earn extra money we have extra jobs he can do, if he chooses, but there are other things he does simply because I ask him to and he's a part of the family. But I do think I'm going to get a chart for him, and eventually for Nathan, with the chores listed and checked off. Great ideas! Thanks!

thecurryseven said...

We do things a little differently. I stink at giving allowances...even allowances tied to chores. Plus, even a few dollars per child per month is too much money for us to afford. Everyone has chores they are expected to do because they are a part of the family and as a part of the family they are expected to do their share. Extra jobs can sometimes be done for money. For instance, I offer a $.05/dandelion bounty throughout the just have to show me the root. My older children have become entrepreneurial in their money making...reading tutors, bread businesses, babysitting, etc. I think what's important, is as you said, that money is tied to work. And if you don't work, whether it's your chores or some outside money making endeavor, there is no money.


Joseph said...

Love this (of course, since our brains were separated at birth) and recently started our "Daily Five". Need a point of clarification, though. When do you give out the daily nickels -- AM or PM before they go to sleep? For example, what if they straighten their room in the AM and show you, but by the PM it is trashed again because of play? Does that cleaning go onto the next day or do you reward every evening? Just curious. Trying to work out the wrinkles on this end!


Cuppa Jo said...


I put the mula in jars when the chore happens. If, by the end of the night (before bed) the room is trashed or there is dirty clothes on the floor, etc., that chore goes into the next day.

Today, is pay day in our house. However, if they want to earn an extra $.20 then they will have to straighten up today.

Also, the rooms are usually straightened up by the evening, for if they want computer time, or over these last two weeks, Olympic time, chores must be complete.

It was a GLORIOUS week. I went to the bank and got a roll of nickles, a roll of dimes, and 10 one's in order to pay the kiddos. Money for savings is going directly to the bank. Monday for tithe and spending stay in their rooms.

Joseph said...

Got it. Great. Just bought ABC banks for the younger three. Amazon had them reduced and with free shipping. Haley has a savings account, but the other three don't yet. Soon...once they've earned enough to add to it.

Let's keep each other accountable to this!!