When it comes to kids and teaching them about money I tend to disagree with everyone from my husband to my sister on this. I want my kids to know financial responsibility. Of course I don’t want them to grow up to be entitled, spoiled little brats either but there seems to be a pretty fine line to walk when trying to navigate this lesson of parenthood. Some philosophies I carried over from my own upbringing and others are different than how I was raised, but as I use to tell my sister before she had kids to each their own.
I’ve heard the arguments for how kids should get paid for doing chores and I’ve heard the arguments for why they shouldn’t. Some may see my view as harsh but there is no set guaranteed payment for chores in my household. My kids are expected to put their laundry away, empty the dishwasher, sometimes help clear the table after dinner, clean up their rooms and any messes they make, and take care of their cat including the litter box. Sometimes they also help do the cleaning and yard work. Here’s my argument for having them help out without compensation. I don’t get paid to clean up the house and put my stuff away. Self-responsibility doesn’t come with a reward; you just do it because that’s what you do as a responsible human being. I am also not the maid. We all live here; therefore, we will all take part in doing stuff around the house. Now every now and then if there’s a bunch of extra stuff to be cleaned up around the house or for doing their chores without whining or forgetting and I have a couple extra bucks I’ll give them money. If I want them to consider how and when to spend their own money they do have to earn some money somehow. Besides the random payment for doing a nice job or extra when it comes to chores around the house, they also earn money for "babysitting" their brother (watching or entertaining him while I'm doing something else around the house). They can also earn money from good grades.
We take our kids to do a lot of things. We went and did a lot of things before we had kids. We weren’t about to change this because we had kids or exclude them; however, I often worry how traveling and going to do so much stuff on the weekends could lead my children to believing money grows on trees. Our kids are also in a lot of activities that run into a lot of money. Affording three kids activities, clothes, and tickets for this and that all run up into quite a bit of money; however, my husband and I work hard for our money so I'm not going to avoid doing things as a family because my kids might get too "spoiled" from it. So there are times like recently when they wanted to buy books at their school book fair even though I take them to the library at least once a month,that I said they’d have to use their own money. After forking money over for birthday parties and Easter, buying spring sports gear, and purchasing tickets to upcoming weekend activities , the parent bank was dry. They gladly obliged and they each sat down and went through how much money they had to spend and their wish list of items to make decisions on what they were actually going to get. If we go to a movie or something like Disney on Ice or have an upcoming trip planned they are often encouraged to save their money for the things they may want there as we paid for the tickets and expenses to do the activity but are not about to spend $60 on three flashing Disney princesses or whatever flashly thing they think they may need. Though they are kids and often want toys, they know we are not going to buy them toys. Though they do sometimes spend their birthday or Christmas money on toys from the store, they also know now to consider saving it for events like an upcoming show or the beach like last year when they bought crabs from the beach with their saved money. We will take care of their needs but when it comes to their wants they have to consider their own money and how much they really want to part with it for something they want now verse something they may want later.
As my kids enter their teen years and those wants become bigger and more expensive, they will be expected to work. However, their studies and activities are first so the expectation will be when it fits in their schedule after school and sports so like during an off season, just weekends, or maybe a particular night or two of the week. Though we do plan to provide them with a car once they have their license more for our convenience than theirs it will only be for their remaining high school days. Once they graduate and are ready to head off to college, is when we will start to expect them to look into getting their first car in which they’ll cover the payments though we’ll probably cosign with them. But from the beginning they’ll be expected to pay their own gas, spend their own money when going out with their friends, pay for their own cell bill, and possibly even their share of the auto insurance again depending on the balance between activities and work but if they are not in season with a sport they will not be sitting on their teenage butt. They will be working.
Though it may seem like my money managing expectations for a six and nine year old are a little harsh, I have agreed to support my husband’s idea of trying to help pay for some of their college. Even at six and nine I know these are good girls. They work hard, they take their studies seriously, they do a ton to help out around the house ,and though they will have a vested interest in their college career because some of it will be paid for by them through either scholarships they earn, work study income they make, or school loans they have to take out to pay back themselves later, we do not want our kids starting their adult lives out in ridiculous debt or being stuck paying school loans until they die of old age as will probably be the case for my husband and me. I'm not going to forfeit my current financial situations or my own future retirement for their college savings though, but because I like to think I myself was raised to be smart with money I will make sure we save what we can to give them a little help.
Teaching them to save I'm finding though is a hard concept. I think my younger one gets the idea better than my older. My older wants to spend every last dollar she has, but I've also seen them work together to "loan" each other money or put their money together to get something they agreed they both wanted. They are learning. I know at times they think I'm just an awful, evil Disney mother or something because I expect them to do chores every day when they walk in the house and I don't believe they should be instantly rewarded with money for helping out in a house we all share. They also understand we spend a lot of money to take them to go do a lot of stuff and that all those activities they enjoy are not free and they have both expressed gratitude at various times for these luxuries. When my oldest for her ninth birthday told me not to worry about the present part of her birthday because throwing her the party with her friends and going to do family stuff her birthday weekend was enough I knew- evil harsh mother or not- they're learning.