Tag Archives: kids

Kids and Money: Family Economy

Back in this post, I mentioned that we were beginning what we call our ‘Family Economy’. I’m not sure why we chose that name as it really doesn’t describe what we’re doing, but with 4 boys 15 years and younger, things often don’t make sense.  (Anyone feel me on that?)

To describe the Family Economy a little better, it’s a system of payment of wages to the child for completely tasks (chores and other things) throughout the week. Originally, this idea came from Shawni @ 71toes.com and this post. When I came across it, I knew we had to try it.

But let’s back up a little bit. Let me tell you WHY  I feel my children should be receiving a wage and NOT an allowance.

First, I want to describe to you what I see with kids today. In general (an by no means are all kids included in this group), I see a lot of kids who are being brought up having no concept of money or the real cost of living. They’re attending sports camps that cost hundreds of dollars, wearing clothes that are extremely over priced, get all the new gadgets as they hit the market, and watch mom or dad pay for it all on a credit card.  Kids are given no responsibility to pay for things themselves.

Which leads to the next thing. Due to all the government and insurance regulations in place, a kid is lucky to even find a job. When I was a teenager (you know…last week  ), when you turned 16, a lot of kids got a job. You worked at the grocery store, waitressed, or drove to the neighboring ‘big’ town for a job at a fast food place or one of the big chain retail stores.

If you were like me and had a parent who owned a business, or even one who farmed, you started working a lot earlier than that. I started babysitting when I was 11 and working for my parents when I was 12.  My son is 15, and although in Illinois a child can work at 14 (with some hoops to jump through) no one will hire a child younger than 16. My son has been looking for a job for almost a year and a half. Everywhere he inquires he’s met with the same answer, “Sorry. You have to be 16.” It’s frustrating for him and frustrating for us as parents trying to teach our children financial responsibility.

Lastly, I am anti-allowance. I don’t believe that handing my child money just for existing is doing anyone any favors.

Here’s the nuts and bolts of our Family Economy:

  • Each child has the opportunity to earn a wage equal to his age every week.
  • Each child has a chart with his assigned jobs and chores that must be filled out each day.
  • If a child misses one mark, he has the chance to make it up by doing an extra job. If he chooses not to make it up, his weekly wage is cut in half.
  • If a child misses 2 marks, he can make one up to be paid half wage, otherwise he won’t be paid at all.
  • If a child misses 3 or more marks, there will be no wage that week.
  • The kids are required to Give 10%, Save 20%, and the rest is their Spend money.
  • When the boys turn 12, they are required to pay for half of their clothes and shoes and all their spending money. We won’t pay more than our spending limit on clothes that we paid before. So, if the kids decide they want a pair of $120 shoes, I’ll only pay $50.
  • If they want to do camps or anything like that, they have to pay half also (although there may be instances where we’ll pay more.)
  • We pay for socks, underwear, and special occasion clothing.
  • The two oldest boys must pay for their portion of the cell phone bill after their initial two year contract is up. For Jeremy that will be this next summer and for Punkin it will be November 2014.
  • Their Save money is put into the family bank. They receive 10% interest accrued monthly on their savings. They’ve all had savings accounts in banks before, but here they’ll be able to earn more money on their savings-like 1000% more. This is their reward for working to save more money.
  • They can’t withdraw from their savings.
  • They can choose who or what they want to give their ‘Give’ money to.
  • We have payday every two weeks.
  • Edit: We use check registries to keep track of the money (the kids are responsible for filling out their registries when they get paid.)

Jeremy has a contract with us to pay back some money he borrowed to put towards his new computer and to pay an old cell phone overage debt, so that poor kid only received $1 this payday. I thought it was a great lesson to be learned. He has to pay us $20 a month, and he’s only got $42 total in his spend account for four weeks. He’s really going to have to economize and make wise spending choices so that he’ll have enough  money to pay for his clothes.

We’re in our third week of Family Economy, and I am very pleased with how excited the kids were to get paid for their hard work. Both older boys were paid for two solid weeks, while the two youngest were only paid for one week. I’m pretty serious about them having to do all their chores for them to get paid, and believe that if I was lenient at the beginning, it would just follow on through.

I can remember as a kid working for my dad, he told me, “Now that you’re getting paid, you’re going to be responsible for buying your clothes. You can either spend all your money on the expensive shit, or save some of it.” It was a small obscure conversation that’s followed me through my life. I never had the highest costing brand name clothes in school, but I always had gas money, spending money, and money in the bank. I was even able to pay for a weeklong trip to Mexico when I was 15 (with a school group).

My goal for the kids is that they learn that although money isn’t everything, it sure is nice to have enough to meet your needs and to give some away. I want them to learn to budget what they do have and to be content to live within their means.

I believe this will be a great way to do that.

What’s your opinion on allowance? Do you have a family economy of your own in place?

My kids think I’m a bitch, and I don’t care

Several months ago in this post, I discussed how we had started what we call the Family Economy. For the most part, this had been going very well. But, for whatever reason, after a couple weeks off over Christmas, the whole thing had pretty much fallen apart.

Another thing that seems to have happened after our Christmas school break, is that internet usage has gotten completely out of control by not only the older boys but by the younger ones as well. I hadn’t realized how much they were asking to play on the computer or my phone until I said no, and I was witness to the ensuing fit.

I partly blame myself for this. I became pretty lazy about checking to make sure the boys were doing what they said they were, and there were a few cases of cheating the system by the kids which resulted in them losing pay for periods of time as a result. But as I said, after Christmas, this became much more pronounced and a lot worse.

I also blame myself for the internet usage, especially with the younger boys. Of course it’s easy to say yes when a kid wants to amuse himself with something, but shouldn’t I be more picky with what that something is? I realized this yesterday when both my 6 and 11 year olds said they had nothing to do, even though they have a room stocked with legos, kinex, and other toys.

So today, when I saw that again the stairs hadn’t been vacuumed, the entryway cleaned up, shoes kicked off against the wall leaving a muddy trail, leaves all over the basement floor from the back entrance (we live in a raised ranch so there’s one of those handy/not easy to keep clean stairwells in the back), the 6 year old asked me to play on my phone the minute he woke up, and my 15 year old hadn’t pulled himself away from his computer for the last week, well, let’s just say I’d had enough.

As far as the chores are concerned, the Family Economy is pretty serious stuff to me. My kids get tired of hearing me say it, but by the time I was my 11 year old’s age (he’ll be 12 in a couple of months), I was working very long, full time days for my parents every summer, over school breaks, and after school (when we were needed) until I was 20. It wasn’t easy work either. I remind them that their uncle was 9 and turned 10 shortly after we started working. To me, the Family Economy is the best way to teach them that a good job and work = payment and shirking work and responsibility leads to no pay and no extras.

I find it ridiculous that kids are trusted driving thousands of pounds of cars and trucks (in Iowa a child can get a school permit at 14.5 years old-yes to drive to school without supervision) but the government feels it isn’t a good idea for them to work before they’re 16. But, that’s another rant for another day.

So back to me being a bitch. I called a family meeting with the kids today and informed them of the following:

  • Their lack of follow-through with their jobs hadn’t gone unnoticed and because I hadn’t made any notes on exactly what hadn’t been done, they would all be receiving half pay for the week.
  • From here on out, if their chores were not completed, there would be no pay, but the boys older than 12 would still be responsible for half of their shoes and clothing as was the original deal. They’d have to figure out how that was going to work.
  • The one son who’s making payments for his computer (we fronted him some money to purchase it) will have to cash in his CD to repay the loan immediately if he stops getting paid or he will forfeit his computer as was the agreement.
  • Internet usage is being cut immediately. The children will be allowed two hours of internet in the morning to complete their schooling. After their chores are completed, they will be granted one more hour to be used on the computer or their phones.
  • Playstation time during the week will be awarded for extra work done without payment and will be allowed on the weekends at our discretion.
  • Computers and phones will be left upstairs and their usage will be monitored.

I was surprised at the reaction I received from one of my sons. Actual tears were shed over the internet being limited. He argued that he doesn’t have any friends here, which has been a constant struggle for all of us since we moved (even when the boys were in public school). For whatever reason, we just don’t seem to fit in very well.

My solution to that was to challenge the boys with finding a group, club, or class that they could be involved in outside the home. One has said he’d like to join 4-H, one has said he’d like to take swimming lessons, and one wants a class at the Y.

I also asked them each to list 3 things that they’d like to improve on, and was surprised to receive well thought out responses.

Regardless of the positive spin of improvement and community involvement I tried to place on our family meeting, I did get the ‘You’re a bitch.’ look from two of my kids.

I constantly tell my kids that I’m their biggest fan, but even their biggest fan will make rules that they won’t like and won’t agree with. There will be times they’re convinced they hate me.

My job as their parent is to raise 4 well-mannered, intelligent, compassionate, disciplined, responsible, and hard working men…not to coddle them the entire time they’re under our roof. I see too many children reaching adulthood without a clue as to what responsibility means not to mention how to be independent..

My dad has told me, “No one said being a parent was going to be easy,” and of course he’s right. And that’s why, today, my kids think I’m a bitch and I’m okay with it. Sometimes parenting is a really sucky job, but someone has to do it.

I’m game.

Hobo Stew : Use up your food bits!

Since we’re getting ready to pack up our house (Moving day is only 21 days away. Woohoo!!), I’ve been hesitant to buy too many groceries. We’ve been concentrating on cleaning out the freezers and eating what we have on hand.

This has led to some interesting meals…

And some less than enthusiastic children when it comes to mealtime.

One of the favorites (according to two kids) and one of the least favorites (the soup hater) has been my version of freezer stew or as Punkin calls it “Hobo Stew”.

soup preparation

Months ago, I put a container of soup in the freezer. It had been such a huge batch that no one wanted to finish it after eating it for several days in a row. I knew that the chances it would ever get thawed out and eaten were slim, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw out perfectly good soup.

Then I read Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides. In the book, they describe how they have a freezer container that they throw all their little leftovers in. When it’s full, they make it into a soup.

It sounded good to me!

On top of the soup already in the freezer went some more soup of another kind, then some gravy, some ground turkey that had been seasoned for burritos, and whatever else I don’t remember.

Yesterday I realized that the container was full and I either had to thaw it out or throw it out. Thaw it out it was!

To this delectable meal was added leftover juice from italian beef that I’d frozen with the intention of making more italian beef (yeah, that didn’t happen) and a few odds and ends that were hanging out in the frig from the past week.

The kids groaned.

One asked if he had to eat.

I bribed them with buttery rolls.

With much trepidation, the kids bent over their soup bowls and slurped the first spoonful.

Jeers turned to cheers! It was, according to our resident soup aficionado Peanut, “Some of the BEST soup ever!”

I do have to admit, it was pretty fantastic. Like I said, I’m not sure what all was in there, but whatever it was it worked.

When I look back at all the little bits we’ve tossed (You know what I’m talking about…the tiny little bit of veggies, the tiny amount of leftovers that get scraped into the garbage.), I wish that I hadn’t been so hesitant (or would have remembered) to throw them into the freezer soup container.

In our new house, this container will take a much more prominent spot in our freezer in anticipation of a delicious, unique meal that is ready within minutes.

Use up your food bits! Start your Hobo Stew container today.

Do you already do this? How do you make sure you use all your leftovers?