With Eric getting bigger – I still marvel every day as he throws on his backpack and climbs onto the school bus – he’s discovered that things cost money. Tricky business, that, as he no longer gets to pipe up saying “I want that!” and have it magically become his! A lot of things he requests be added to his wish list for his birthday or Christmas, but when there’s something he just HAS to have, some toy or game, it’s becoming his responsibility. (Not always, of course; he still gets some freebies!)
Of course, to buy things, you have to have money. We are terribly mean parents, though, and we don’t just give it to him – he needs to earn it. Sometimes he earns it by identifying money for Daddy – a quick lesson in what a dime, nickel, quarter, and penny is can earn those coins for him, or he’ll help count the bills and add them up to tell Daddy how much money he has (earning a little of his own along the way). For everything else…
Instead of an allowance, Eric has a chart of “extra” chores. These do not include the things that are just expected of him: putting his clothes in the hamper when they’re dirty, cleaning up his toys, putting away his folded laundry, etc. These are the extras that help Mommy and Daddy out but are entirely his choice on whether he participates or not. Right now, they’re small things, and they earn him a dime each: helping unload the dish washer, using the dust pan after I’ve swept to clean up the mess, stuff that he can easily do and builds a foundation for later slavery…I mean, earning potential. He chooses a goal to save toward (right now, a coveted game for his Leapster Explorer), and he tucks money away in his piggy bank toward it. When we go out and he wants to buy something that he has enough money for, we tell him he can buy it, but then he’ll have that much less money toward his game – he has to choose.
So far, he’s always chosen to save his money.
Honestly, at 5, the fact that he’s not always going for the instant gratification kind of impresses me.
This is a foundation for what we both want to build it into. I need to find him a second bank for his room, and once I do, we’ll be starting to tuck money into both. Every time he gets his chart paid out, he’ll get to put some toward his goal, and some will need to go into savings. Eventually, we’ll get him a bank account too, and he can take it in to the bank. Of course, he’ll need to earn more than a dollar or so a week before that’s needed, but he’ll get there too. Dime chores like using the dust pan will turn into sweeping the kitchen, which will earn him more, and then graduating to the vacuum…
He earns money, and me? Well, I get to kick my feet up a little. I can handle that!!
So far, our system is working well, and Eric is often quite excited when he gets to help out and earn some money. If only I thought that excitement about working would last!!! I know we’re in a small window, here, before it stops being fun and starts being just, well, a chore.