In todayâ€™s economic uncertainties proper money management is top on the list of priorities when it comes to preparing my children for the real world. When I was in college I did not drive anywhere on the weekends because I did not have the money to pay for the extra gas spent. I did not take money from my parents nor was I out buying clothes or going to the movies. I made just enough money to cover living expenses and that was it.
A few of my friends invited me to a little get-together one evening. These were friends I respected so imagine my shock when one of them got up and announced we were there to discuss financial possibilities. The owner of the house was my age. By age 24 he had secured a Hummer and a sizable home with many amenities. The scheme was not so much about selling products but rather sign up as many people as you can naÃ¯ve enough to fork over $1500. I thought how dumb could they be to allow themselves to become a part of this. They had managed to convince a girl to turn over one thousand dollars of money she did not have to spend on get rich quick schemes. I had to hold them back as I ushered her out of the room and to her car. Not even one month later the gentlemen who started this scheme over in Switzerland went under taking all the blind that followed with him. I wonder how much of the oversized housing market was due to individuals like these who had not been taught the fundamentals of financial responsibility (or ignored it) and saw a quick buck.
My kids are still too young to recognize the value of money. I can only imagine the tantrum that would ensue over my giving Mason a dime and Adelin ten pennies. All they would see is one of them has more coins than the other. But, there are other ways to teach the little guys about money and the value of work.
By the age of one our children knew how to throw their diapers away, wash dishes and pick up toys. Toddlers love to put objects into things. In our home when we clean up I try to include our one year old, making it into a game. The other kids are driven by the excitement of teaching their baby brother how to put things away. By three the older two knew how to clean their own rooms (by themselves without me telling them too, I do not know how that happened), the bathrooms, mop the floors, pull weeds, vacuum, sweep, dust, set the table and help cook. At this age they help out because they want to and they do a pretty good job. I love it when Mason excitedly asks us to â€œcome see.â€ Proudly he announces that he cleaned his room. Yes it was very clean. The funny part was he had thrown every article of clothing and all his toys into the hallway. They are practicing now how to work. And we give them every opportunity to do so. If they are bored I immediately find them something to do. At this age they are happy to comply when it is on their terms so I try to let perfection go and have fun.
I do believe in allowances, however; I believe that chores are part of being a family. Mason begins Kindergarten next year and will most likely start receiving a monthly, age appropriate, allowance when he has learned to associate a value to the coins. For now they love to sort the coins and play grocery store. They learn to conserve energy by turning off the lights and take care of their clothes by tackling stains right away and hanging them up to dry. By age twelve and thirteen they will be capable of finding odd jobs in the community such as babysitting, mowing the neighborâ€™s lawns, washing cars or selling homemade baked goods. They will learn about giving to charity, savings and being frugal.
Budgeting and a good sound worth ethic are the two most valuable tools my mom taught me. It did not happen on my way off to college. It happened when I was very young when my mom refused to give in to my demands and made me wash the dishes. I want to send my children off with the knowledge we work hard, we save for a rainy day, use what we have and go without when we have to.