"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Everyone has their own philosophy on kids and money. Our's has had a bit of an evolution.

I grew up penniless. There were very few free handouts and allowances were unheard of. You worked because you lived under a roof, ate food made for you and slept in a bed ... period. We got jobs at young ages. My brothers started working the cash register down the road at the Big D gas station at fourteen, though they'd been mowing lawns since they were eleven. I worked at our local fitness center's day care at the same age. And all of my sisters were proficient in babysitting and willing and eager the very minute anyone called offering a job. That's how cash was earned if you had needs.

My husband's road was a bit different. There were jobs expected and a cash reward at the end of the week called allowance and he, too, got a job early in life to expand his fundage. He gained a firm grasp on money management growing up and I'd guess that's where his path to accountancy began.

Mesh these two differing worlds and in the early days, there was quite a bit of disagreement regarding kids and financial responsibility. He had valid points. Giving kids an allowance taught them to physically go down to the bank, fill out deposit slips, talk to the tellers, put 10% in a tithing envelope, 10% in their pocket, 20% in a savings account, and stow the remainder into their individual checking accounts.

Yeah -- you picture that. Me ... going into the bank ... with five kids, bank deposits filled. A real micro management nightmare cuz once that first kid finished up business and the teller handed the sucker jar over the desk, all hell broke loose. And then later, I'd find that pocketed 10% laying on the floor somewhere, unclaimed and disrespected. But I dutifully did it ... for awhile.

They were learning good skills -- just not what I was hoping -- appreciation for the dollar bill. Most of their dollars ended up in random vending machines unless I found them laying around and decided to repo abandoned cash.

So we went back to "you just do it because you live here". Then, we'd come home from our Friday night date and find that our babysitter had done bare minimum babysitting. Dishes left, kids still awake at 10, clothing scattered over the floor -- not a job I would actually pay a working sitter for let alone call her back. Sloth seemed to be a common middle name amongst our kids.

Chores make a family run smoothly. Everyone has to help out if it's going to work. And it is expected because that's what it means to be part of a family. I don't believe in handouts.

Thankfully, somewhere along the way, folks around here started to have wishes, wants and desires accompanied by no pocket cash to make their dreams come true. They wanted money and I wanted children who understood the worth of a job well done.

So ... the chores are done and done well because kids in our house like to eat! And if you'd like to earn something extra, why, I'm willing to pay you what you're worth for certain jobs I might otherwise hire someone else to do. For instance, I'll gladly pay kids to vacuum and wash my cars just as I would those guys down at the car wash, providing the job is done worthwhile. Anything from babysitting to landscape help. You want cash? I've got needs.

That's California meets Western North Carolina style. We've hit and missed and come a long way, but let me tell you -- these kids can work for a buck because learning what life costs is shocking and yet liberating at the same time. It's all a matter of learning to balance family life reality and the fact that there really is no free lunch. And hopefully, they will walk away understanding that life is full of rewards well earned.

Now get out there and work your assets off, kids, before your competition down at the car wash wins my biz!


  1. We have a jar of money jobs always available on our kitchen counter. I wish it would be taken advantage of a little more often. My kids usually wait until they see something they really want and then drive me crazy all day long having me check the jobs to see if they were completed acceptably. So exactly how do we teach them to earn a little everyday and then they just may already have the money the next time they see what they want?

  2. It's great you are training your children about finances early in life.

    The ten percent "tithe" you speak of ended at the cross per Hebrews 7:5,12,18. That was Old Testament law that didn't work then, and doesn't work now.

    The New Testament raises the bar. The New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a tithe. Yes, tithing would be much easier and less expensive for many of us, but God may expect much more from us.

    Here's a good training exercise for children. When your child wants something for themselves, have them put aside a certain amount every week or month. When they have saved enough to buy the item, have them pray and ask the Lord whether they should buy that item OR should they give that money to someone less fortunate, or to a church or other charity. IF they decide to give the money, they will show real sacrificial giving and will be blessed by God. Giving that way, although sacrificing something they wanted, can also make a person really feel good.

  3. To each his own regarding the law of tithe, I suppose. But I do agree with you that it's important to teach children that everything we are blessed with in this life is simply under our stewardship and not really "ours" but to be used to help others. And sacrificing a part of yourself does feel good. Thanks!