Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A penny saved is a penny earned....

So we are trying to teach our oldest (almost 6), Landon, about earning money, saving money and owning your work. This process started when I asked him to go clean his room one day and he threw a MASSIVE fit in which he told me he wasn't the garbage man, that I was. He said it wasn't his job to clean his room and clean our house, that is was mine and his dads and that he was just a kid and kids dont have to clean. I am not sure where he got any of this from, because he has ALWAYS had to help us clean, from the time he was big enough to walk he had to pick up his messes. I think it was just one of those heat of the moment things filled with passion from some unknown place, but in any event it took me by surprise and I sat down with Noah (handsome hubby) and worked out a plan to teach Landon differently, to show him how to clean and to take ownership of things. I have to admit at times its like pulling teeth, at times I want to abandon the whole process all togther, but I guess as the saying goes, Anything worth doing is worth doing right. He is the kid who throws fits all the time about, what feels like, everything. He is also a very sweet loving, helpful at times kid, it just feels like the tantrums and fit throwing out weigh everything else. Trying to get him to earn money is like pulling teeth, I mean who would have thought? A kid not wanting to earn money to buy toys? Crazy!!

He earns $5 (his age) every week for cleaning his room. At first I wanted his room to stay clean all week in order for him to get his money, but I wanted him to have ownership of something in the house and his room is of course the perfect place for that, so his room only has to be clean by Family Night on Monday night if he wants to earn the money, no consequences are given (except that he doesnt earn his money) if Family Night rolls around and his room is not clean. Now I am a CLEAN FREAK about messes, so walking into his messy room drives me insane and I have to fight every instinct I have to not stop and pick it up for him (I mean after all what does that teach him?). He has learned (hallelujah) since this earning money journey has begun, that it is much easier to keep his room clean and to pick up after himself on a daily basis then it is to rush and clean a room full of mess 10 minutes before family night begins. My least favorite part of this though has been the ownership part, I cringe and want to sit down and have a 5 hour talk with him about it (hahaha, can you imagine how well that would go over?), when Family Night rolls around and he decides that he just doesn't want to earn money this week, because the daunting task of cleaning his room doesn't seem worth the $5. Oh child how I wish you could understand that when we go to the store and you want to buy every toy that you see, that you have to actually clean and EARN your money for it, in order for you to be able to buy it. We have found that letting him go browse through the store looking at toys and picking out a toy and seeing the price has helped him to want to work a bit harder to earn money, it gives him a tangable goal, instead of just hearing mom and dad droning on and on about saving your money for the ten billionth time.

Each week we have certain chores that he can do for extra money. Cleaning up trash in the yard, vacuuming (the stairs or other BIG jobs, he has to help vacuum the rest of the house just because) , cleaning the playroom (usually a mess caused by his younger siblings), cleaning the kitchen (not including cleaning up after dinner, which is just part of being a family), all earn him extra money. Its usually only $.50 per chore (depending on how messy it is) and sometimes, when he has a certain toy in mind, he will ask to do chores and will do multiple ones a day.  Now he has to help with the house hold chores, like cleaning the family room, doing the laundry, cleaning off the table and picking up his messes, and for these things he doesnt earn money because, in our house, this is just part of being a family. I keep a daily tally and pay him out at the end of the week (or rather on Monday night at Family Night). He needs to see his tally, so I put it on the family calendar and he asks me (sometimes multiple times a day) how much he has earned, which is totally fine because, well who doesnt want to see where their hard work has gone, and for my almost 6 year old this is in terms of money.

I would like to say this plan has eliminated ALL of the tantrums at the store when he wants to buy and toy, but I would be lieing. It has stopped the "but every parent buys their kids toys, but you!" fit because its his own fault that he doesnt have the money to buy said toy (because we, as the parents, give me all the chances to earn the money to buy the toy), the fit has now just turned into "I need money! why does this have to cost so much." And I have to say I much prefere these fits because he is taking ownership of the fact that he needs to earn the money and is realizing how much things cost, now I wish I could just make him be the kid who saves, instead money burns a hole in his pocket.

We also give our almost 4 year old the chance to earn money, but most of the time he doesnt care about it and doesnt care about getting the toys at the store. I think this has more to do with his autistic nature then with anything else, but I guess time will tell.

My favorite part of all of this is when Landon has showed me his loving brother side when it comes to his money. Yesterday we were at the store and he had $5 left over from his money that he had made to use on our latest trip to Disneyland. He pays 10% in tithing (for church) and 10% goes to his mission fund, we are also working on him putting 10% into a savings account but he is not on board with that, so after that he had $4 left. He used that $4 to buy each of his brothers a box of cookies and then with his $2 left he search the store for some toy to buy (he of course found nothing). When he realized $2 was not enough he found a toy he wanted to save his money for and we worked out a money saving plan. As we are leaving he threw a fit because he wanted to go to the Dollar Store to buy a toy, we brought up his money saving plan and he decided to buy a chocolate bar instead with the change he had in his wallet and save his $2 for the Batman Jetpack toy.

We have tried a million different ways to help him learn about earning and saving and this has worked best for us. What works best for you?

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