Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kids and Money in the School Years (SMSK Post #5)

Every parent has had that chat about "Well (fill-in-the-blank) has it." I remember having a conversation with both of our girls while they were in Kindergarten about cell phones. There were kids in their classes with cell age 5......still blows my mind today. Our girls just didn't understand why if that kid had it and their parents bought it for them, why wouldn't we buy it. We realized when Cutie #1 got to Kindergarten we had to have a new approach.

Neither one of our girls understood the concept of money in Kindergarten, but they understood saving and earning. The Responsibility Chart had worked very, very well. But our girls needed something else. We had to figure out a new approach for our girls....enter the marble jar.

Kids are visual learners. We needed something that would show what "adding up the good and taking away for bad" would look like. I love to make jellies and canning during the summer months, so I grabbed two pint jars and used some marbles we had. We decided the girls would get 5 marbles a day. If they were great and did everything that was asked then they kept all five marbles. If they were disrespectful we took a marble. If they didn't clean their rooms, we took a marble. If they didn't help around the house, we took a marble. And yes we had days when we dipped into the jar for number 6. Once the girls filled up the jar they earned $5. They also had to have a goal for that $5. So we would do some saving research along the way. It took a while to earn that $5 so don't think we were passing out $5 bills on weekly basis.

It may seem cheap of us to only pass out $5 for a full jar, but seriously think about it. With a school schedule, dance and girl scouts, we were not going shopping on a weekly basis. The jar allowed them to have a target goal and gave me just enough time to encourage hard work with a relatively fast rate of return for the girls. Most of the things they wanted were "two jars full" so it worked out very, very well.

When Chaz was hurt the jar went out the window, the girls were 8 and 5 at the time. I am sure you can imagine a lot of things changed when he was injured. Once our lives got into our "new normal" we knew we had to begin a new plan. Our girls were older now. Unfortunately Chaz's injuries forced us all to grow up a lot, but it did force our girls, especially Cutie #1, into maturity. Chaz and I had to look for a more mature plan that would work for our family now. We decided to set up a real world scenario for the girls that would go right along with their homeschool education.

We wanted the girls to earn, give, spend and save. I hunted around pinterest and google and discovered this chart. We decided it could work very well in our home. We decided we had to go a little farther with the chart so out came the Allen house ground rules.
  1. We will not pay you if you do not complete your responsibilities. We expect you to clean up after yourself and be a team player in this home.
  2. We will decide on tasks that are eligible for commission together as a team. We do encourage you to think outside our chart and look for other payable opportunities. 
  3. There will be fines for bad behavior. Think of us as the police on the highway, you go too fast and we will give you a ticket. (In our home, this is really about disrespectful language and attitude). 
  4. If you are bragged on by a stranger for your behavior or helpfulness that is an immediate $1 bonus. You never know who is watching so you want to always be your best. 
  5. Random acts of kindness will also be rewarded with $1. So think about how you can bless someone else. 
  6. You will put back 10% into savings and 10% will go to giving. You will decide what you give to, but you will give. 
  7. You have to remind the bank to pay you. Sometimes the bankers will forget it is Sunday.
  8. You must keep your ledger up to date. If you don't then you will lose your debit card. 

This is one of our charts. We laminated it so we could use it again and again. When they forget to remind the bank for money then they are allowed to erase the 1 and make a 2, 3 or 4. Eventually they remind the bank on a Sunday that money is due. ;)

Now a few of you caught number 8 are thinking whaaaaat?! Yes our girls each have debit cards. Yes our girls are 8 and 11 and they have had the cards for a while now. Let me tell you they do a pretty darn good job of keeping up with those cards.

Why cards? Why not cash? Well I am busier than a one-armed paper hanger (little bit of the South coming out there.) I do not carry cash and I forget all the time to get cash. So yes our girls have pre-paid debit cards. The best part is they cannot overspend. If they try to buy something and there's not enough money on the card, then they have to put it back. When pay day comes I simply have to log into our accounts and transfer the money to their cards after they have balanced their ledgers. When they get cash for their birthday, they give it to me and I put it on the card. If they lose the card, I report it lost and have another one sent. We've been doing this for two years now and I have never had to replace their cards.

Our girls have addition and subtraction down so why not make them use it. We make them keep a ledger of all of their transactions. We make them balance their books and make them stay in charge of their personal finance. They are mature enough to handle it, so why not let them handle it.

You know what the coolest part has been....we make them save 10% and they both save so much more. Deryn saved enough to buy herself an iPod touch. It was almost $300 and she saved that money in just a few months. And she knows where that iPod is at all times. We did buy her an otterbox as a birthday present to protect her investment, but other than that they now buy all of their wants.

Will our chart and plan work in every household? No, it will not. Every home is different. Like parenting, personal finance is not one size fits all. You have the overall concepts, but really you have to take the small details and personalize them to a plan that works for your home. Maybe cash works better for you? Maybe your kids need to stay with the marble jar longer than our crew. These are all decisions your home will need to make. The most important thing you learn about all of this is you need to start talking to your cuties about money now....not at!!


  1. Praying in Seattle!
    Psalms 27:1, 4-5 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?...One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

  2. Very impressive! I love the prepaid card idea! Such good ideas with your family rules too. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Know that you're always in my thoughts and prayers!
    Psalms 27:7-9 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

  4. Continuing to lift up prayers!
    Psalms 27:13-14: I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

  5. Lifting up prayer!
    Psalms 63:1-2 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.